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Minnesota counties must decide to accept or reject new refugees

Updated: December 09, 2019 07:42 PM

When President Donald Trump held a rally in Minneapolis in October he spent a few minutes focusing on immigration, including touting an executive order he issued a couple weeks earlier. Now, Minnesota counties are finding out they need to act soon as a result of that order.

"I promised you that as president I would give local communities a greater say in refugee policy and put in place enhanced vetting and responsible immigration control," the president said to cheers from the partisan crowd. "As you know, maybe especially in Minnesota, I kept another promise. I issued an executive action making clear that no refugees will be settled in any city or any state without the expressed written consent of that city or of that state."

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It's actually state and county governments that will be making the decision to accept new refugees or decline them. So far, only Kandiyohi County in southwestern Minnesota has voted on the issue. The county board voted 3 to 2 to continue accepting refugees.

Daniel Romero of the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration hopes no counties vote to decline refugees.

"All of that would create great turmoil, great divisiveness and that's just not what Minnesotans want," Romero told 5 Eyewitness News. "It's not what people of faith want. It's not what secular institutions want."

But the president says state and local governments should have more control over the issue. The executive order signed in September says, in part, "In resettling refugees into American communities, it is the policy of the United States to cooperate and consult with state and local governments..."

North Dakota county may become US's 1st to bar new refugees

Romero says the new policy is "racist" and counterproductive.

"These are policies that invite segregation," says Romero, "that invite communities to kick out and exclude people largely based on their skin color."

Governor Tim Walz says he plans to submit a letter saying the State of Minnesota will continue accepting refugees in any county that continues to consent.

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Tom Hauser

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