Gov. Tim Walz offered his consent to continue Minnesota’s participation in the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program in a letter sent Friday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The letter was issued in response to a September 26 executive order from President Donald Trump, which sought to give counties and states more control over their involvement in refugee resettlement. According to the executive order, if a state or locality does not provide explicit consent, then refugees “should not be resettled” in those communities.
“I promise you as president I will give local communities greater say in refugee resettlement. In the Trump administration, we will always protect American families first and that has not been done in Minnesota,” Trump said during his October campaign rally at the Target Center.
The executive order has caused some confusion for local leaders, since there’s no clear date provided for when counties and states need to act, The Minnesota Sun reported. Stearns County Administrator Mike Williams, for instance, said that the Board of Commissioners is waiting for more direction from the state before acting. The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners was the first (and so far only) county in the state to pass a resolution agreeing to accept more refugees.
The order directs the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Health and Human Services to “develop and implement a process to determine” whether states and localities both consent in writing to the resettlement of refugees.
“Minnesota has a strong moral tradition of welcoming those who seek refuge. Our state has always stepped forward to help those who are fleeing desperate situations and need a safe place to call home,” Walz said in his letter to Secretary Pompeo. “In keeping with this proud history, I offer my consent to continue refugee resettlement in the State of Minnesota.”
He concluded the letter by criticizing the executive order, saying Minnesota reserves the “right to challenge the executive order’s requirements.”
“I reject the intent of the President’s Executive Order on Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement,” said Walz. “As the Holiday Season approaches, we are reminded of the importance of welcoming all who seek shelter. The inn is not full in Minnesota.”
Trump’s executive order is currently being challenged in court in Maryland, which could effect how the order is implemented—if at all. Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Friday that he has joined 12 other attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in the Maryland lawsuit.
“Minnesotans want everyone to live with the same dignity and respect that they want for themselves. This includes the many refugees we have resettled here, who have given back many times over to the state, communities, and neighbors that have welcomed them. I’m challenging the President’s order on behalf of the people of Minnesota because it is illegal and immoral,” Ellison said in a press release.
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