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12. B. 14.
Resolution of Support for Refugee Reception and Replacement Program
Jim Dyer, Corporation Counsel, Corporation Counsel
Resolved that the Calhoun County Board of Commission adopts the Resolution Consenting to Continued Refugee Placement, as presented, and authorizes the County Board Chair to sign the resolution and the attached letter of transmittal to the US Department of State.
County Administration recommends adoption of the Resolution.
On September 26, 2019, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement. (See attached.) The purpose of the Executive Order was to adopt as Executive Branch Policy a requirement of documenting State and local government acceptance of and cooperation with the Federal governments local placement of approved refugees. The Executive Order states that "Close cooperation with State and local governments ensures that refugees are resettled in communities that are eager and equipped to support their successful integration into American society and the labor force."
Refugee status is a form of protection that may be granted to people who meet the definition of refugee and who are of special humanitarian concern to the United States. Refugees are generally people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm. It is important to note that the immigration status of "refugee" is a lawful immigration status. It generally confers both the right to legally live and work in the United States, while that status remains current. A person may only seek refugee status from outside the United States. The process is quite lengthy, requires substantial proof of potential harm on return and medical clearance before arrival in the United States. The entire process often takes 18-24 months before approval. Refugees are among the most scrutinized individuals seeking entry into the United States.
In support of the Presidents Executive Order, the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration has issued a fiscal year 2020 request for proposals to provide local refugee reception and placement services. In order for these services to support the initial placement of refugees in Calhoun County a local resolution of consent and support is necessary. The County has been asked by the State of Michigan, and both Samaritas and Bethany Christian Services to provide this consent so they can continue to provide services to new and existing refugees located in Calhoun County. The RFP from the Department of State contemplates providing up to $2,175 of financial support for each refugee sponsored (the current cap for 2020 is 18,000 refugees) by the RFP applicant. Access to these funds would be unavailable to non-governmental service providers acting in Calhoun County without the proposed resolution. The State of Michigan has already provided a letter of support. The County cannot provide such an letter without authorization by a Board resolution.
Finally, it must be emphasized that this resolution is in no way an endorsement of the concept of "sanctuary cities." Rather than an indication of opposition to Federal immigration policy, adoption of the resolution supports legal refugees and provides them financial support. Calhoun County and Battle Creek have long supported local refugee settlement and location here. The County Health Department currently provides local health screening services to refugees in the Calhoun area. The resolution support a continuation of that welcoming tradition.
The Board must adopt the resolution as presented. Substantial modification, particularly an indication that support was equivocal or conditional would likely render the resolution useless. Rejection of the resolution would prevent local non-governmental support of refugees placed in Calhoun County, but would not result in a restriction of refugees from moving to or living in Calhoun County after their initial placement elsewhere, since refugees are free to live anywhere after their arrival in the United States. Attempts to prevent local relocation of refugees would be a violation of Federal and State discrimination statutes.
It is recommended that the Calhoun County Board of Commission adopt the proposed Resolution Consenting to Continued Refugee Placement, as presented.
The refugee placement program is budgeted in the approved Calhoun County Public Health Department Budget.
Refugee Resolution Ex Order 13888
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