Bemidji City Council sees large turn out of people against refugee resettlement

The Bemidji City Council had a large turnout of citizens concerned about refugee resettlement in this area.

During the citizens with comments segment of the meeting last night, a handful voiced their concerns, who appeared worried that Bemidji would entertain becoming a refugee resettlement area.

Jason LaValley, of LaValley Industries, expressed his concern that a large influx of refugees would change Bemidji’s culture.

“I just heard so much about it, I’ve witnessed it in other areas near our region,” said LaValley. “It’s been conflictive (sic). Crime rates have raised (sic) and everything, and I think it’s going to change our culture.”

“I love where we live,” he added. “I don’t have a problem with other folks from other areas, but if you move in 2,000 of them, you’re going to have problems, it’s going to be different.”

The item, an executive order issued by the Trump Administration, is a matter to be determined by states and local governments, which appear to mean county governments.

“Section 6(d) of Executive Order 13780 of March 6, 2017 (Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States), directed the Secretary of State to determine the extent to which, consistent with applicable law, State and local jurisdictions could have greater involvement in the process of determining the placement or resettlement of refugees in their jurisdiction, and to devise a proposal to promote such involvement,” the order, dated Sept. 2019, states.

The order continues with: “I have consulted with the Secretary of State and determined that, with limited exceptions, the Federal Government, as an exercise of its broad discretion concerning refugee placement accorded to it by the Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act, should resettle refugees only in those jurisdictions in which both the State and local governments have consented to receive refugees under the Department of State’s Reception and Placement Program.”

Mayor of Bemidji Rita Albrecht stated that the rumors about it being a city issue were untrue.

Rita Albrecht. Photo courtesy of the City of Bemidji.

“There has been no discussion by me or any other council member, by anyone in this community that I know of other than those putting this message out there, that we would be entertaining any idea of moving any refugees here, opening any new refugee settlement, providing housing for 1,000, 2,000, 100, 200 or any number of Syrian or Somali refugees,” said Albrecht. “It is absolute made up stuff that someone else has said.”

The Beltrami County Board is scheduled to discuss the item, which is on the agenda, during their regular meeting this evening.

Since this is an agenda item, there will not be an opportunity for citizens to address the topic during the citizens concerns portion of the meeting, and no public hearing has been set on the matter.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


'Bemidji City Council sees large turn out of people against refugee resettlement' has 1 comment

  1. January 7, 2020 @ January 7, 2020 2:52 pm Jim Sears

    The mayor has denied these stories about the planned resettlement of refugees. This is contrary to the stories that are out there, specifically about muslims. It is concerning to many concidering the governors announcement some time ago about the three so called islamaphobia offices, one of which has been proposed for Bemidji. Duluth and Worthington are to get the other two. Exactly what is the truth, and why did the council have time listed to discuss resttlement, of somebody???

    Reply


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