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Western States Show Their Support For the Refugee Resettlement

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The western United States wants to make something clear: refugees are welcome. After the decision over the refugee resettlement was due, most of the western states, except Wyoming, agreed to participate in it, giving immigrants a much-needed subtle victory in 2020. 

Last year, the Trump administration announced that states and localities would have to agree to take in refugees in their municipalities, and gave them until January 21 to deliver a decision in writing. Texas was notably the only state to formally decline, and while counties like Maine and Minnesota made symbolic “no” votes, most of the west not only agreed to the idea of becoming home to refugees, they welcomed it. 

“California has long held the stance and supported the idea that accepting and supporting refugees in their resettlement is an imperative humanitarian effort which benefits all of California’s communities,” Assemblywoman Reyes said in a press release for a bill that would actually grant refugees an additional 8 months of monetary assistance in the state.

The refugee crisis is growing strong. According to the United Nations (U.N.), even with last year’s 14% increase in the number of refugees resettled, “a tremendous gap remains between resettlement needs and the places made available.” In 2020 their goal is to resettle up to 70,000 refugees, but they are expected to encounter significant roadblocks. 

Last year, the country with the largest number of UNHCR-facilitated resettlement departures was the United States, followed by Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany. For this year, the Trump administration has sliced their lead country’s resettlement numbers in almost half, going from 30,000 to 18,000 annual admissions. Compared to 2017’s 110,000 cap, that is a 83% decrease in refugee admissions in three years. 

“People don’t choose to uproot their lives and move to another country for fun,” Jeremy Wendt, a Minnesotan who supports allowing refugees to be resettled in his community told the Bemidji Pioneer. “They do it because they’re making very difficult decisions that I and my family have never been faced with.”

Out of the more than 63,000 refugees resettled last year, the largest number originated from Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Myanmar. 

Alexandra Tirado Oropeza is a Venezuelan journalist covering politics, immigration, entertainment and social justice. She moved to the U.S. in 2014 to pursue a Writing degree at The University of Tampa, and after graduating, she moved to Los Angeles where she works in broadcast and as a freelance writer. She’s passionate about equality, freedom of speech, art and dogs.