North Dakota county to accept only 25 refugees in 2020

Leaders of a county in central North Dakota on Monday voted to limit the number of refugees it accepts next year to no more than 25.

The Associated Press reports the Burleigh County Commission voted 3-2 to limit the refugees it takes in after initially signaling it would ban all refugees in what would have been the first move to do so since President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE in an executive order in September gave states and counties that ability.

The vote included a provision for further study of the issue and came after a four-hour-long meeting, according to the AP, which added that a vote on the issue last week was delayed due to the crowds in attendance overflowing the regular meeting space.


Burleigh County, with a population of 95,000 and home to the capital city of Bismarck, received only 24 refugees in 2019 and 22 the year before, the news service noted.

Even though the county has accepted less than 25 refugees in recent years, local interest in the vote peaked, with more than 450 people reportedly in attendance for Monday’s meeting, which was moved to a middle school cafeteria due to last week’s overflow.

Chairman Brian Bitner, who voted against the measure and advocated for a total refugee ban, said at least a dozen church leaders wrote to the commission in support of the refugee resettlement, allowing for up to 25 a year, according to the AP.

“In my own mind, we would basically be writing a blank check, and somebody in Washington, D.C. or elsewhere would make a decision on how many people would come to Burleigh County and we’d have to respond,” Bitner said at the meeting. “And that’s simply not a good way to govern.”

Several refugees in attendance voiced their displeasure with the measure.

“People think we are lazy and just sit at home and get the government money,” said 20-year-old Tresor Mugwaneza, who came from Congo four years ago, according to the AP. “We are not in this country just to take your government money. We are here to work and be successful in life just like all of you.”

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) last month said that the state would continue to take in refugees where local jurisdictions agreed to do so, with a spokesman for the governor saying he saw it as a local decision, the AP noted.