Cass County Commissioners Vote Yes to Refugee Resettlement

An executive order by President Trump puts the fate of refugee resettlement into the hands of each state and county

FARGO, N.D. — “I tell them I’m from Fargo, North Dakota, I say it with pride, because here we have compassion. We support each other. We’re different, but we welcome everybody,” said a refugee who spoke on her experiences coming to Fargo.

Commissioners vote unanimously to continue a decade’s long program that helps resettle refugees fleeing unsafe countries into Cass County.

The yes vote comes after dozens of supporters stood up and voiced their desire to keep the program in place.

“The program needs to exist. We’re the good guys! We are the people that help the world. My only criticism has really been the volume, because the people we bring, we have to keep our word and support them, and I contend that when we bring in 400, 500, 600, 700 people, whatever the number will be, we can’t support them as we should. That’s not fair to us, that’s not fair to them,” said Chairman Chad M. Peterson of the Cass County Commission.

“This community has the housing, it has the healthcare system, it has the educational system that can really support this population. As a community I think we can be very proud of our record of welcoming people into our community;” said Barry Nelson, the Chair of the Fargo Human Relations Commission.

Members of the Fargo Youth Initiative also voiced their support for the program, citing a survey that says cultural diversity was one of the top reasons young people appreciated Fargo.

The vote is required due to an executive order signed by President Trump in September, requiring consent from Governor Doug Burgum as well as the Cass County Commission in order for the county to receive new refugees.

Initial estimates say the program should bring in nearly 100 new refugees. The low number is due to the refugee ceiling being set by the President to 18,000, the lowest number since he has taken office.

The program will need to be renewed annually, and the next discussion will be in September of 2020.

Cass County took in 108 refugees in 2018, 95 in 2019, and over 6,000 since the program began in 1997.

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