The nation’s counties and states have been put on the spot by a presidential order that requires state and local governments to formally approve refugees being settled in their jurisdiction.
If the county boards say no — or if they say nothing at all — the agencies that relocate the refugees cannot place them there. For some areas of our state and the nation, the mere process of saying yes or no is fraught with controversy. Some people and some communities have expressed deep resentment toward people who have been settled next door.
Gov. Tim Walz has already informed the U.S. State Department that Minnesota’s “inn is not full.” Minnesota has a long-standing tradition of welcoming immigrants, from large numbers of Vietnamese, Laotian and Hmong in the 1970s and 1980s to the more recent resettlements of Liberians and Somalis.
While we share the sentiment that local governments should not be put in this position in the first place, we feel there is only one answer to President Trump’s executive order. The answer is yes.
Yes, our counties, cities and our entire state should continue to welcome refugees from throughout the world.
By welcoming a vastly diverse population, we enrich our own culture. This is reflected in our arts, restaurants, faith and business communities.
More practically, we need workers. Our state’s businesses struggle to fill open positions. Factories, warehouses and health care facilities cannot operate at full efficiency without adequate staffs.
It is important to note that the refugees referred to in this order are not illegal or undocumented. They have met all the State Department’s requirements for refugee status and have been properly vetted for entrance and relocation in the U.S. They are people displaced due to persecution or the “well-founded fear of persecution” in their home countries.
We’re also talking about a relatively small number of individuals. Although the U.N. says the number of refugees globally is at its highest since World War II, only 727 refugees were resettled in Minnesota in fiscal year 2019, which ended Sept. 30. That number will likely go down this year because the president has lowered the nationwide cap on refugee admissions from 30,000 to 18,000 in 2020.
We urge all of Minnesota’s counties to offer a quick and simple “yes” to this question. As Gov. Walz said, our inn is not full and our front door is open to all who qualify through this program.
— An opinion of the Adams Publishing – ECM Editorial Board. Reactions welcome. Send to: email@example.com.