This news was a surprise. I had been assuming all along that since the President’s Executive Order had been halted in the courts and that the Chinese virus crisis had halted almost all (but not all!) refugee resettlement that county governments had simply swept the sore subject under the proverbial rug.
Not so in St. Louis County, MN where a vote is expected on Tuesday although the public will not be there as they were here in January (seems strange that there were actually crowded meetings like this only a few months ago!):
From the Duluth News Tribune:
Controversial county board meeting moved out of Buhl
Meetings will still be held online. Tuesday’s proceedings on refugee resettlement consent had figured to draw a large crowd.
The St. Louis County Board has seen its controversial upcoming Tuesday meeting moved out of Buhl and made online-only. The online meeting will emanate from the Virginia [MN] Government Services Center, county administration said in a news release Wednesday.
Meetings at the courthouse in Duluth and other locations throughout the county have been moved online for the past two months, since the county’s emergency declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We want to make sure everyone is safe,” Commissioner Frank Jewell, representing downtown Duluth, said during an online board workshop Tuesday, May 19.
Commissioner Keith Nelson, of Virginia, has been adamant the meeting — scheduled for the Buhl Senior Center and set to address the politically charged issue of refugee resettlement consent — should be a physical meeting held in public.
Earlier this month, he described the idea of moving the meeting as “a travesty.”
“We listened for many hours on multiple occasions to folks very much in support of this resolution,” Nelson said May 12. “I have listened to many hours, too, from constituents of mine that are absolutely not in support. They are asking when do they get their turn?”
The subject of refugee settlement consent had been tabled to Tuesday, May 26, during a board meeting in Duluth in January, following three hours of public testimony. Other board meetings, including one in Hibbing prior to COVID-19 restrictions, have also included several members of the public addressing the refugee resettlement issue. Citizens to date have been predominantly in favor of consenting to refugee resettlement.
The issue of refugee resettlement consent sprang up last winter, after President Donald Trump issued an executive order requiring counties to consent to resettlement. Notably, Beltrami County in Minnesota voted against giving its consent. Many counties, including neighboring Carlton County, declined to take it up after a federal judge blocked the order, nullifying the need for boards to act.
Still, because the St. Louis County Board tabled its consent resolution, it will come up Tuesday.
Citizens of St. Louis County have a few days to comment!
In its news release Wednesday, the county said citizens can submit public comments for the public comment portion or for specific board agenda items prior to the meeting by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 218-726-2110 and leaving a recorded comment, or by raising your “virtual hand” while using the Webex software during the board meeting.
I have no idea of where the Executive Order court case stands these days, but with the COVID slowdown and a Presidential election in a few short months, there is not much happening with the UN/US Refugee Resettlement Program.
I do know this! If Joe Biden (or any Dem wins in November) the refugee floodgates will be thrown open.