How City Leaders Should Engage with the Refugee Resettlement Order

December 3, 2019 - (3 min read)

On September 26, 2019, the President signed an Executive Order that puts into place new requirements for State and Local governments on issues pertaining to refugee resettlement. The EO states that refugees shall only be resettled in those jurisdictions in which both the State and Local government have consented to receive refugees under the Department of State’s Reception and Placement Program. Per the EO, the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Department had 90 days to determine the process would be operationalized. The EO requirements do not impact spouses or children under 21 years of age coming to join a refugee family member who is already in the United States.

As of this month, the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) has operationalized the requirement to obtain state and local government consent through their Notice of Funding Opportunity. This application, which will be responded to by nine resettlement agencies across the country and their affiliates, requires these agencies to obtain “written consent for resettlement of refugees from the state governor’s office and the chief executive officer of the local government (county or county equivalent).”  This letter of consent will apply for the duration of the grant award period, which runs from June 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020, subject to the availability of funds.  This agreement may be renewable for up to one additional fiscal year based upon budget submissions on an annual basis. Deadlines for application is January 21, 2020.

So, how should local leaders expect to be engaged on this issue? The onus is on the resettlement agencies to engage with your governor’s office and the county (or county equivalent) to obtain letters of consent. For many communities, we know that your governor’s office may have already reached out to you to discuss how the process will work in your state.  If you have not yet heard from your governor, now is a good time to reach out to them to ask how they plan to handle this issue in your state to ensure that the voice of your city, town or village is incorporated into the letter of consent generated for your area.

NLC is currently working with our colleagues at the National Association of Counties to generate a letter to the Administration about this issue and how we can work together to improve this process and ensure that all communities have a voice and are not impacted negatively by this EO.


About the Author: Stephanie Martinez-Ruckman is the Legislative Director for Human Development at the National League of Cities. Follow Stephanie on Twitter @martinezruckman.