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Concerns around proposed refugee resettlement cap grow in Minnesota

Updated: September 28, 2019 10:11 PM

There are growing concerns in Minnesota's immigrant communities about a Trump administration proposal that would limit the number refugees allowed into the United States next year.

On Thursday, the State Department recommended capping the number of refugees at 18,000 for the upcoming year. Last year, the administration placed the cap at a record low of 30,000.

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"I certainly wasn't expecting such a dramatic reduction," said Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott, who represents one of the most diverse suburbs in the Twin Cities.

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Elliott, a Liberian immigrant, is asking that the administration reconsider the proposal. He expects the impacts of fewer refugees could reach into the business community and the economy.

"These are folks that are coming here, they're working hard," he said.

The healthcare field could feel the most immediate impacts, as many immigrants and refugees work as nurses and home health aides, Elliott said.

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"It's really important that we have this kind of flexibly and the ability for immigrants and refugees to come to this country," he said. "It helps to fill jobs that otherwise we wouldn't be able to fill."

Kerry McGuire, an attorney with the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, said there are currently about 8,000 family members in Minnesota waiting to join their relatives. Changes to the resettlement program could delay or even cancel out current applications.

"There's no guarantee that someone would be here even in the next decade if someone is not brought over as a refugee family member," McGuire said.

Congress has an opportunity to comment on the proposal before it is finalized.

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