Dozens of mayors from across the country recently issued a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to ask for continued refugee resettlement in their respective cities and townships.
“Mayors across the nation recognize the many contributions refugees make to their cities and to our nation as a whole. They strengthen our economy and enhance our culture. We write to urge the Administration to rescind the September 26 executive order and return this year’s refugee admissions to previous annual levels,” states the letter, which was issued by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
That executive order sought to give counties and states more control over their involvement in the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. According to the executive order, if a state or locality does not provide explicit consent, then refugees “should not be resettled” in those communities.
The mayors claim in their November 25 letter that the executive order would “fundamentally change the structure” of the resettlement program “by devolving key decisions primarily to the states and ultimately lead to a patchwork of conflicting policies running contrary to the purpose of a national resettlement program.”
“It will also leave thousands of refugees, former refugees, and U.S. citizens without consistent and routine access to integration services and other supports. This is an unprecedented and harmful procedure, particularly given that resettlement agencies already consult regularly with state and local stakeholders regarding community needs,” the letter continues.
In Minnesota, the letter was signed by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Edina Mayor James Hovland, and Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz.
Michigan also had three mayors sign the letter, including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett, and Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss.
The Democratic governors of both states have sent letters to Secretary Pompeo consenting to continued participation in the refugee resettlement program.
“I reject the intent of the President’s Executive Order on Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz wrote in a letter to the Trump administration, The Minnesota Sun reported. “As the Holiday season approaches, we are reminded of the importance of welcoming all who seek shelter. The inn is not full in Minnesota.”
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a similar letter, telling Secretary Pompeo that “Michigan has a rich history of welcoming refugees.”
“I fully anticipate that our local communities and jurisdictions will continue to support the resettlement and welcoming of refugees as our new neighbors and stand ready to do all I can to support these vitally important efforts,” said Whitmer.
Another executive order from President Trump capped refugee resettlement at 18,000 nationally for Fiscal Year 2020—down from 30,000.
The president’s September 26 executive order is currently being challenged in court in Maryland, which could effect how the order is implemented—if at all. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison recently announced that he has joined 12 other attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in the Maryland lawsuit.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Refugee Solidarity March” by Fibonacci Blue. CC BY 2.0.