City council responds to President Trump’s refugee executive order

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By Cody Mello-Klein | [email protected]

City council adopted a resolution in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order 13888, which required official consent from state and local governments in order for the federal government to resettle refugees in a given area, during a legislative meeting on Oct. 22.

The new executive order was put in place on Sept. 26. Alongside the executive order, the administration announced that it would be lowering the annual cap on all refugees to 18,000, a decrease from 30,000 in fiscal year 2018, starting on Oct. 1. In fiscal year 2017, the cap was set at 110,000.

The executive order impacts all refugees coming through the U.S. Department of State, which generally includes all refugees who are vetted overseas and brought to the U.S. by the Department of State, according to Justice for Immigrants.

Mayor Justin Wilson, Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker and all five other city council members expressed unanimous support for refugee resettlement in the city.

Councilor Del Pepper acknowledged the cultural and economic contributions made by refugees and immigrants in the city and the “great benefit in having them here.”

Other members of council made it clear that the decision to approve the resolution was in direct response to an executive order that could harm refugees’ chances of resettlement.

Wilson said the executive order’s supposed intention of involving localities more deeply in the resettlement process makes it possible for certain communities to block refugee resettlement.

“I think the idea that we would goad communities, which I think is what’s happening here, into declaring themselves off limits to refugees is such anathema to our country’s principles and certainly our community’s principles,” Wilson said. “So, I think the White House in this executive order asked for jurisdictions to weigh in and here’s our answer.”

Councilor Mo Seifeldein expressed similar sentiments, while referencing all the work the city has done to create an inclusive and welcoming community.

“Consistent with this administration’s animus towards harmony, there is no doubt in my mind that the executive order is meant to sow divisions in local communities,” Seifeldein said in a statement. “Our community issued an Inclusivity Statement in 2016 that affirmed its 2007 resolution of being a welcoming community. In my first budget cycle, I successfully introduced a measure to combat the family separation policies of this administration. The future is bright in Alexandria because of our welcoming community.”

Pepper made a motion, seconded by Bennett-Parker, to approve the resolution. It passed unanimously.

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