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LaHood Defends Refugee Vote, Expresses Support for Rubio

Kathleen Lorenz

Speaking to students at Community West High School in Normal today, Congressman Darin LaHood (R-Illinois) defended his recent vote to block Syrian refugees from resettling in the U.S. 

Students questioned the Peoria Republican about the backlash against refugees triggered by the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and the Middle East. Community West senior Ani Chalian said she agrees that rigorous screening is necessary, but also identifies with the refugees because her grandparents fled to the U.S. from strife-torn Armenia.

Students also queried LaHood about his support for the Trans-Pacific Trade Pact, which he says will ultimately benefit central Illinois farmers and makers of agriculturual equipment such as Caterpillar and John Deere.

The students also expressed concern about cyber-security. LaHood agreed that cyber-security is a looming problem, but said it will be hard to protect the U.S. cyber system without help from the private sector.

Senior Anna Sekiguchi told LaHood his party is failing to represent the concerns of many young people her age. Sekiguchi says many students she knows identify as Republican, but hold more moderate positions than the national party. Some students cited their concerns about the lack of compromise in Congress. Sekiguchi called for more moderation from both national political parties.


Exclaiming "I am not a fan of Donald Trump," LaHood told students he is supporting Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) in the presidential primary because Rubio is offering fresh ideas for the party on foreign and domestic policy and because of the candidate's personal story as the successful son of immigrants.

LaHood also said he wanted to reassure students who might be frightened or discouraged in the wake of the recent ISIS and Al Qaeda attacks. He told students the terrorist threat is real, but that American democratic values remain a "beacon of hope" throughout the world. He urged students to become active i the political system and build on those values.

Speaking to reporters after the school assembly, LaHood said he gives an A grade to new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).


LaHood praised Ryan for shepherding passage of the federal budget and a major transportation bill within five weeks of taking over as House leader.