ALEXANDRIA, MN — The Douglas County Commissioners will discuss the issue of refugee resettlement at their January 21st board meeting. Commissioners would like to hear from their constituents prior to that meeting. They are asking citizens to provide their thoughts by phone or email.
“We would like to better understand the feelings of those currently living in Douglas County,” says Board Chairperson Keith Englund. “Discussing this complex issue one-on-one with concerned citizens will provide us with the needed insight to move forward.”
The board is not required at this time to vote whether to accept legal refugees through the resettlement program. President Donald Trump’s Executive Order goes into effect June 1, 2020. After that date, refugees will not be placed in jurisdictions that have not offered consent. Local resettlement agencies must submit 2020 placement strategies to the U.S. Department of State by January 31, 2020. If a jurisdiction has not offered consent before this date, it is possible that refugees may not be resettled there in 2020.
Consent only relates to the initial placement of individuals. After placement, refugees have the right to travel or relocate to any community they wish. Refugees resettled through the U.S. Department of State Refugee Admissions Program are screened extensively prior to their arrival. Twenty security assessments are conducted. Refugees have legal, permanent status in the United States, authorization to work immediately upon arrival and a pathway to citizenship after five years. Refugees are people who have been forced to flee their home countries due to violence or persecution based on religion, race, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. In fiscal year 2019, 848 refugees were resettled across the entire state of Minnesota. From 2009 to 2018, records show, Douglas County has been asked to accept one refugee through this program.
Contact information for commissioners: