St. Croix County votes to pause settlement of immigrants

St. Croix County votes to pause settlement of immigrants

St. Croix County votes to pause settlement of immigrants

St. Croix County is making a statement about refugee resettlement by voting in favor of a resolution to pause immigrants settling in the county.

In Chippewa Valley, one organization has been approved to settle 75 refugees.

In response, St. Croix County leaders drew up a resolution pausing resettlements over concerns these efforts could expand to their area.

“They are going to take the opportunities of your children, my children and our taxpayer dollars,” a meeting attendee who lives in Wisconsin said.

In St. Croix County, opinions about refugee resettlement were front and center at a March 5 meeting.

“I am just heartbroken there’s a resolution to say ‘You’re not welcome,’” another meeting attendee said.

World Relief, a national nonprofit, plans to bring 75 refugees into Chippewa Valley this year.

State refugee program officials said the refugees will have background, security and health checks before coming into Wisconsin.

The program’s manager added it’s a long-term investment and immigrants contribute to the economy and job force when they get on their feet.

“The overwhelming evidence shows there’s a considerable net gain to this,” Ben York, Wisconsin Refugee Programs manager, said.

York added the federal government would fund refugees for the first 12 months of coming to Wisconsin.

Then, they would work more closely with local case workers, if needed.

St. Croix County supervisor Paul Berning voted in favor of the refugee resettlements pause.

“How can we help these folks come to this country if we can’t even help the people, the other immigrants, migrants and refugees that are here already?” Berning said.

Berning cited issues like inflation, skyrocketing home prices and drug issues that need to be addressed in the county first.

“It has nothing to do with being anti-immigrant or anti-refugee or helping others. It has everything to do with ‘Let’s get our own house in order and then review it in a couple years.’” Berning said.

This is just a resolution meaning St. Croix County is asking for a pause, but they have no jurisdiction over telling the federal government what to do with immigration.

The board plans to review the pause in May 2026.

Wisconsin has been taking in refugees since 1980.