The Dubuque County Board of Supervisors plans to draft a resolution welcoming the resettlement of refugees if the situation arises.
During a work session Jan. 27, the three supervisors agreed in principle to a resolution proposed and promoted by a group of 10 refugee advocates that would allow the relocation of refugees to the county.
The move comes in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order in September that refugee relocation only would be permitted to areas in which the state’s governor and the county’s governing body has officially notified the federal government that those refugees are welcome. That effectively allowed governors to block refugee resettlement to their states or county boards the ability to do so in their communities.
A U.S. District Court judge in Maryland filed a preliminary injunction against the executive order Jan. 15, halting its enforcement for now.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced in December that she would send a letter allowing resettlement in Iowa.
Dubuque County Supervisor Dave Baker said Monday that he had been “blindsided” when he received a draft of a resolution for board approval.
“But I reached out and got good input and advice and am very comfortable supporting some kind of resolution,” he said. “But I want us to write it and put it on our official letterhead.”
Supervisors Ann McDonough and Jay Wickham also voiced support for some resolution.
The draft language had been distributed by Sara Zejnic, of Catherine McAuley Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It was a very short statement that resettlement would be allowed in the county.
On Monday, she assured McDonough that the county was not agreeing to extra responsibility or cost by approving a resolution.
“In signing, there is no cost to the county other than there would be for any normal citizen,” Zejnic said. “It’s simply opening the door for resettlement in the future.”
Yer Vang, director of immigration legal services for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, attended Monday’s meeting in support of a resolution. Her organization was responsible for refugee resettlement in Dubuque until Trump’s cuts to resettlement numbers in 2017.
But Vang said refugees have not been resettled in Dubuque for at least a decade.
Sister Mary McCauley — who also promoted passage of a resolution — said support from the county supervisors would send a message.
“It has become a political issue where there has been bipartisan support for refugees,” she said. “I would like to see Dubuque County show that bipartisan support.”
Baker said a resolution would be drafted and brought to the county Board of Supervisors for approval. All three supervisors are Democrats.