Gov. Tim Walz is reaffirming Minnesota's commitment to refugee resettlement in response to a controversial presidential executive order — and making it clear he's ready to push back against it.
In a Friday press release, Walz announced his "consent to the federal government to continue Minnesota’s long history of welcoming refugees."
Why? Per President Donald Trump's "Executive Order on Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement," state and local governments now have the power to decline to accept displaced people from other countries into their communities.
As the Administration explains, this "ensures that refugees are resettled in communities that are eager and equipped to support their successful integration into American society and the labor force."
Under the order, issued in September, government and nonprofit agencies that help resettle refugees must get "written consent from all localities and states in which they plan to place refugees," NPR explains.
In his letter of consent, addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Walz had this to say:
Minnesota has a strong moral tradition of welcoming those who seek refuge. Our state has always stepped forward to help those who are fleeing desperate situations and need a safe place to call home. In keeping with this proud history, I offer my consent to continue refugee resettlement in the State of Minnesota.
Refugees strengthen our communities. Bringing new cultures and fresh perspectives, they contribute to the social fabric of our state. Opening businesses and supporting existing ones, they are critical to the success of our economy. Refugees are doctors and bus drivers. They are entrepreneurs and police officers. They are students and teachers. They are our neighbors.
I reject the intent of the President’s Executive Order on Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement, and we reserve our right to challenge the Executive Order’s requirements. As the Holiday Season approaches, we are reminded of the importance of welcoming all who seek shelter. The inn is not full in Minnesota.
Walz is not alone in rejecting the intent of the executive order. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sent Pompeo a similar letter, while at least 88 mayors across the country are calling for the order to be rescinded.
Additionally, a number of faith-based groups have filed lawsuits against the federal government over the president's move, with one calling it "cruel and shortsighted.”
Meanwhile, the National Immigration Forum, an immigrant advocacy group, argues, the order would create "a less welcoming resettlement environment" for refugees, prevent reunification of families, and lead to a "bureaucratic nightmare," among other issues.