State Watch

Vermont’s GOP governor reaffirms commitment to accepting new refugees after Trump order

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Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) reaffirmed his commitment to resettling new refugees after President Trump signed an executive order allowing governors to opt out of doing so.

Scott, in a letter obtained by the Burlington Free Press on Friday, wrote to Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and said the state’s refugee communities have made “countless contributions to our state.”

He also offered an invitation for refugees to come to Vermont should any state take Trump up on his offer. 

“As Governor, I have made it my top priority to grow our workforce and attract more workers to our state,” Scott wrote. “The Refugee Resettlement program is one tool in our toolbox when it comes to meeting this goal; to the extent other states may not consent to resettle refugees, I hope refugees will consider Vermont a welcoming place that can meet their needs.”

He wrote that the state has welcomed almost 8,000 refugees since 1989, primarily from Bhutan, Burma, Bosnia, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Vietnam.

Scott also indicated that he hopes to resettle more refugees, according to the letter obtained by the Burlington Free Press.

“Prior to 2017, Vermont was resettling an average of approximately 324 refugees per year,” Scott wrote. “Through this consent process I hope to increase current resettlement to the level of 324-350 individuals annually. Vermont has never conditioned and will never condition refugee resettlement on a refugee’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.”

He noted that 100 percent of refugees who resettled in Vermont during fiscal 2019 were economically self-sufficient within eight months of arrival.

Scott concluded by adding that he will be seeking authority from the state legislature to consult with local governments interested in resettling refugees into their communities.

“Regardless of the path other states may choose, these families will always be welcomed in Vermont,” the governor wrote.

Scott, the first Republican governor to come out in support of the impeachment inquiry against Trump, joined more than 30 governors from both parties who said they would accept refugees in the upcoming year.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Friday became the first official to opt out of accepting new refugees under the Trump policy, citing how the state is grappling with “disproportionate migration issues resulting from a broken federal immigration system.” 

In the executive order, signed in September, Trump said he determined that the federal government should resettle refugees only in jurisdictions “in which both the state and local governments have consented to receive refugees under the Department of State’s Reception and Placement Program.”

The order requires that any governors who wish to accept refugees must inform the federal government before Jan. 21.

The Trump administration has steadily cut the number of refugees admitted into the U.S. overall, proposing capping the number of refugees at 45,000 in 2017, 30,000 in 2018 and 18,000 in 2019.

Tags Donald Trump Executive Order Greg Abbott Mike Pompeo Phil Scott Refugee Resettlement Vermont

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