North Dakota county debating becoming first to bar new refugees

A North Dakota county is debating becoming the first local government to bar new refugees since President Trump’s executive order allowing the move. 

The Burleigh County Commission will hold a vote on the proposal Monday, The Associated Press reported. The vote was delayed in the county that includes the state’s capital of Bismarck after more than 100 people attended the commission’s regular meeting space.

The commission will host Monday’s meeting in a middle school cafeteria instead.

Chairman Brian Bitner told the AP the public interest in the vote is the most intense he’s seen since he’s been on the commission for more than 10 years. 

He did not say which way the commission would likely vote but said he would be voting for the proposal to ban new refugees.

“The overwhelming public opinion is so clear to me, that I think if you vote for it, you’re not going to be reelected if you choose to run again,” he told the AP.

Bismarck Mayor Steve Bakken said while he has no voice in the matter, he supports the ban.

“This isn’t about heartstrings. This is about purse strings,” he said, according to the AP.

Lutheran Social Services (LSS) manages all refugee resettlement cases in the state. Vice President of LSS Shirley Dykshoorn told the AP 24 refugees were settled in the capital city in fiscal year 2019, and no more than 25 were planned annually for future years.   

Trump signed an executive order in September requiring state and local governments to consent before additional refugees could arrive, allowing either to ban new refugees. His executive order came as the administration proposed cutting the number of refugees to the lowest number since 1980.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) has said the state will continue to accept refugees in approving jurisdictions, according to the AP.

Tags Bismarck Burleigh County Donald Trump North Dakota refugee ban refugees

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