Beltrami County votes to prohibit refugee resettlement

Symbolic vote sends message to rest of country


Kate Schneider

Beltrami County’s Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to prohibit newly arrived refugees from resettling in their county Jan. 7. 

This decision is the opposite of what our country and the world needs to see, as worldwide refugee numbers continue to grow to 70.8 million as of 2018, according to The New York Times. Now more than ever, we need to be opening our doors to everyone we can help, and this starts on a local level with counties voting to allow refugees to resettle. 

Although no refugees have resettled in Beltrami County in at least five years, the vote is still symbolic and sends a message to refugees coming into the country. If they hadn’t voted by the deadline of Jan. 21, set by Trump’s executive order, then refugees would automatically be prohibited from settling. Therefore, this vote was intended to receive national attention and let people know that their doors were closed. We should instead be focusing our attention to supporting the counties that are opening themselves up to refugees.

It is counterintuitive that if counties take no action, it will be the same as saying no to refugees. Again, it shows the nation’s growing closed attitude toward refugees, but counties that fail to vote should instead be allowing the resettlement of refugees. Counties that have yet to vote need to decide by the deadline of Jan. 21 so as many counties as possible can have their doors open to refugees arriving in the United States.

By allowing the choice to be decided on a county level through the executive order, Trump is trying to divide the states’ counties and weaken their unification. Recently, Governor Tim Walz sent a letter consenting to the resettlement of refugees in Minnesota, and individual counties should not be able to separate from the rest of the state.

Worldwide refugees are the highest they’ve been since World War II, yet since Trump has become president, numbers of refugees welcomed into the United States has continued to drop from 53,700 in 2017 to 30,000 in 2019. Our country needs to take responsibility and take our fair share of refugees, and changing some people’s views nationally on refugees starts in small counties with votes that open their doors to help.