King County Executive Dow Constantine challenged the Trump administration in a letter to the Secretary of State saying that King County would allow refugees to settle in King County, despite an executive order making it harder to do so.
In the letter, Constantine informed the federal government that King County will continue to welcome refugees through the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). King County is home to the largest number of refugees in the state of Washington.
Refugees are “essential to our economic and social development,” according to Constantine’s letter.
The Trump administration is fighting legislation that would allow Kurds and Syrian refugees to come to the United States more easily, according to Vox.com. The effort to allow Kurds and Syrians into the United States came after President Donald Trump removed American troops from an area fighting with Al Qaeda opponents, leaving Kurdish soldiers in the lurch.
The result was massive violence against the Kurdish people in a section of Syria previously held by the Kurds and U.S. soldiers.
Senators Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, attempted to intervene, sponsoring a bill that would open the door for certain Syrians to come to the United States and sanction the country of Turkey for buying weapons from Russia.
“It has been proven that when immigrants and refugees are able to access our immigration system and obtain work permits, they stimulate the economy and build businesses without fear,” Constantine wrote. “Welcoming immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers is not only a fundamental value and character of King County, it is essential to our economic and social development.”
The United States government only plans to allow 18,000 refugees to resettle in the country in fiscal year 2020, according to Pew Research. That’s the lowest number of refugees in a single year since 1980, the year that Congress created the refugee resettlement program.
The majority of refugees come from the former Soviet Union, Near East/Southeast Asia and Europe, in descending order.
According to the Center for Global Development, the average refugee is a contributor to the United States eight years after they came to the country. According to the study, refugees pay back $21,000 in taxes more than they cost the United States in the first 20 years in the country.
Counties across the United States have made similar declarations. According to the Washington Post, Utah, Nebraska and Tennessee have said that they are willing to accept refugees, hardly Democratic strongholds. In the same piece, the Democratic governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, said that unwelcoming locales’ loss was Colorado’s gain.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC.
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