The hot-button issue of refugee resettlement consent landed in International Falls earlier this week, and the Koochiching County Board declined to move it beyond committee. The five-member board on Tuesday cited a Maryland District Court judge's ruling from earlier this month in deciding not to move forward with a consent vote.
"Unless they tell us it's legal, we probably won't bring it back up," board chair Kevin Adee said.
A Maryland judge stayed the executive order from President Donald Trump while legal challenges from refugee groups play out. In his 31-page ruling blocking the order, the judge cited a likelihood for success by legal challenges to the Trump order.
Trump's September order required states and counties to consent in writing by June 1 to host new refugees.
The consent issue had begun rolling through the state, with more than a dozen of 87 counties agreeing to opt-in to refugee resettlement so far. Beltrami County was a notable opt-out and the St. Louis County Board tabled its vote until May. Locally, Cook County unanimously approved consent earlier this month.
The Koochiching County Board had added the consent issue to its committee-of-the-whole agenda one day before Judge Peter J. Messitte's Jan. 15 ruling.
"It basically put us back to pre-September, pre-executive order," Matt Hilgart, government relations manager for the Association of Minnesota Counties, told the St. Cloud Times about the ruling.
About 50 people showed up at the Koochiching County Courthouse to address the board on the matter. Speakers were split on being for or against consent, Adee said, and some residents left upset that the board didn't advance the matter to a vote at its regular meeting on Tuesday.
"He's a U.S. judge," Adee said. "We explained we couldn't take action because of the injunction. There's a legal side to it. I guess it was an easy way out."