Days after Beltrami County became the first county in Minnesota to refuse consent for refugee settlement, St. Louis County commissioners tabled the same resolution at its meeting earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the Duluth Central Labor Body unanimously approved its own resolution supporting refugee settlement in the county at its monthly meeting.
The move is largely symbolic, as St. Louis County is not a common place for refugees to settle. However, members of the body felt it was important to take a stand, especially in light of the county commissioners’ actions.
The CLB resolution reads, in part: “the Duluth Central Labor Body supports the United States Constitution and all laws welcoming refugees to Minnesota without regard to age, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, religion or country of origin; and we renew our commitment to foster a community in which all people have the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness.”
“We were deeply disappointed that the St. Louis County Board voted to delay the vote and we encourage our union siblings to share their disappointment with their County Commissioner,” said Beth McCuskey, Duluth Central Labor Body president. “For me personally, it makes no sense that the County Board didn’t pass this at the January 7th meeting. It’s hard to understand why this would be controversial in any way.”
Trump issued an executive order last fall requiring states and counties to actively opt-in to the resettlement programs; the default is that counties or states are not included unless they express consent.
Gov. Walz and the state of Minnesota has opted in to refugee resettlement. Beltrami County’s move to actively reject refugees was symbolic because of the opt-in requirement.
The St. Louis County Board’s action tabled the vote until May. The deadline to opt in is June 1.
Keith Nelson, Keith Musolf, Paul McDonald and Mike Jugovich approved the delay, while Beth Olson, Frank Jewell and Patrick Boyle opposed it. Nelson made the motion to table the resolution and Musolf seconded it.
More than 800 refugees were settled in Minnesota in 2018. None were settled in St. Louis County.