Both of Minnesota’s most populous counties will officially continue to accept refugees.
The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of continuing to accept refugees during a Tuesday meeting. The resolution passed by the board authorizes the county manager to submit a written letter of consent to the U.S. Department of State agreeing to the initial resettlement of refugees.
The vote follows an executive order from President Donald Trump that mandated the written consent of state and county governments in order to continue receiving new refugee arrivals under the 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 resolution further affirms Ramsey County’s “commitment to being a welcoming community for refugees and immigrants.”
“Ramsey County is committed to connecting refugees to existing cultural community networks and county resources, encouraging family reunification and preventing their continued displacement,” the resolution states.
The board touted the fact that it has established a $250,000 “Immigration Legal Defense Fund” for refugees and immigrants facing deportation.
The county is one of the most populous in the state, second only to Hennepin County, which voted last week to continue accepting refugees. Ramsey County accepted a total of 4,215 refugees between 2015 and 2019, and receives the highest number of refugee arrivals of any county in the state. It is also home to the highest number of foreign-born residents in the state, which the board said contributes to “its rich cultural diversity, strengthened neighborhoods, and economic vitality.”
Gov. Tim Walz sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in December offering the state’s consent for continued participation in refugee resettlement.
“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.
Beltrami County was the first, and so far only, county in the state to opt out of refugee resettlement under the executive order. As a result of that decision, House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (R-Golden Valley) threatened to withhold state aid from the county.
Texas became the first state in the nation Friday to tell the U.S. Department of State that it would not be taking in any refugees. So far, 42 states have approved of refugee resettlement.
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