The Dallas County Commissioner’s Court unanimously voted Tuesday in favor of Dallas County continuing to be a place of initial resettlement for refugees. The resolution follows similar support from the city of Dallas and Fort Worth.
In September, President Donald Trump issued Executive Order 13888, which requires both state and local governments to approve refugee resettlement. As part of the resolution approved Tuesday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who put forth the motion, urged Gov. Greg Abbott also to consent to refugee resettlement in Texas.
The resolution states that the world is in the midst of the worst refugee crisis in human history and Dallas County is already home to many refugees who contribute positively to the area’s economy and culture.
“Whereas, by definition, refugees are individuals who have been forced to flee their home country due to persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or social group; and, whereas, resettlement is the last resort for refugees who cannot return to their home country and cannot rebuild their lives where they first fled,” Judge Jenkins read from the resolution.
Texas resettles 9% of all refugees coming to the United States, according to the Migration Policy Institute. At the reading of the resolution, representatives of local refugee organizations thanked the court for continuing to support refugee resettlement in Dallas.
“I’d like to say thank you to all of you and also to just the Dallas community for making it and continuing to make it a welcoming community for refugees as they seek their new home and need that additional support,” said Suzy Cop, executive director for the International Rescue Committee in Texas.
Last week, Dallas was named the first Texas city with “Certified Welcoming status” by Welcoming America, a nonprofit that support immigrants in American communities by working with institutions to reduce the barriers to integration.
Recently, Trump issued the lowest cap on annual refugees in decades — just 18,000 for the 2020 fiscal year and 12,000 fewer than the 2019 cap. The president has reduced the cap each year he’s been in office, according to the Pew Research Center.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson recently signed a letter sent by the United Conference of Mayors to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging the State Department to rescind this year’s refugee cap. He also signed a letter from Welcoming Refugees 2020, asking Trump to approve a 95,000 cap on refugees for the next fiscal year. That figure is widely regarded as the number of refugees the United States is financially equipped to handle each year.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price also recently sent her own letter to Abbott, asking him to approve refugee resettlement in Texas. Refugees are an important part of Fort Worth, and their presence makes Fort Worth a better place, she wrote.
The local government trend toward support for refugees is encouraging, said Mark Hagar, Dallas area director of the Refugee Services of Texas, who was also present at the commissioners court meeting.
“The consent letter by the mayor and resolution by Dallas County and consent letter to follow reaffirms Dallas is committed to resettling and integrating the most vulnerable refugees,” he wrote in an email.
He previously told the Observer that the United States is one of the few places refugees are allowed to settle permanently and that it’s very important to keep that option open. Local government support helps do that, he said.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.