Democratic Gov. Tony Evers informed the Trump administration on Wednesday that Wisconsin intends to welcome refugees to settle in the state in response to the president’s executive order asking for the consent of states and localities for refugee resettlement.
The executive order, which President Donald Trump signed in September, requires that state and local government officials provide affirmative consent in order to resettle refugees in their jurisdictions.
The executive order came as the Trump administration unveiled its plans to admit just 18,000 refugees in fiscal 2020, a move heavily criticized by humanitarian organizations. In the last year of the Obama administration, the cap on refugees was 85,000.
In his letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, Evers criticized the Trump administration’s refugee policies as “overly cumbersome and inappropriate.” Evers wrote the administration’s stance on refugees has already damaged the state’s economy, such as manufacturing, education, health care and agriculture.
With unemployment low in the state, Wisconsin farmers, who are facing some of the harshest economic conditions in years, have come to rely on immigrant labor to keep their farms running.
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“At a time when we are seeing labor shortages across our state, it is irresponsible for the administration to place obstacles in the path of talented and hard-working folks seeking refuge and a better life,” Evers wrote.
The governor went further, arguing that refugees are a critical part of Wisconsin communities and culture.
“They are part of the fabric of our state,” Evers said. “Time and time again, I have watched Wisconsinites roll up their sleeves and help each other, rising to the call of our neighbors in their time of need. As we face that call today, Wisconsin will continue to proudly welcome refugees into our communities as we have for decades.”
The Trump administration has defended its plan by arguing it’s important for the federal government to cooperate and consult with states and local governments to find the best places for refugees to live, and also to respect communities that say they aren’t able to accommodate refugee resettlement.
On Dec. 3, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and City Council President Shiva Bidar wrote to Pompeo consenting to initial refugee resettlement in Madison.