The topic of refugee resettlement consent reached a city council meeting in Itasca County this week.
At Monday's Grand Rapids City Council meeting, Mayor Pro-tem Dale Christy issued a statement that the city will steer clear of what has become a polarizing state and county issue.
“The issue of refugee resettlement into Grand Rapids is an issue that will be solely decided by the Itasca County board of commissioners," Christy's statement said. "The city of Grand Rapids will play no role in the decision of refugee settlement whatsoever. Our Human Rights Commission had intended on discussing this matter. In reviewing their bylaws this seems to be outside of their purview. The city of Grand Rapids will take no official stance on this issue.”
The city of Grand Rapids posted Christy's statement onto its Facebook page.
The Itasca County Board has yet to take up the issue, and it was not on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting.
President Donald Trump's executive order from September required states and counties to consent in writing by June 1 to host new refugees. But the opt-in has been both stopped, and the issue clouded, by a Maryland District Court judge's stay of the executive order earlier this month.
Last week, Koochiching County dismissed the issue in deference to the judge's ruling.
The St. Louis County Board is scheduled to vote on consent at its May 26 meeting, and a source with the county confirmed it is taking a wait-and-see approach as it relates to the courts.
Prior to the court ruling, 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. Locally, Cook County unanimously approved consent earlier this month.
Refugees are people who are fleeing their homes from war, persecution and violence. They fall under a special classification of immigration that meets the approval of the United Nations and U.S. State Department. There are a record 70 million refugees worldwide.