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Mountain West Governor Calls On Trump To Allow More Refugees

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert visiting the Refugee Education and Training Center at Salt Lake Community College in 2015.
State of Utah
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert visiting the Refugee Education and Training Center at Salt Lake Community College in 2015.

The U.S. accepted zero refugees in October. That’s after the Trump administration has set a year-long cap on refugees at 18,000, the lowest number since the modern refugee program began with the Refugee Act of 1980.

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Meanwhile, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is appealing to the Trump administration to allow more refugees into his state. He wrote his appeal in a letter dated Oct. 24 in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order giving cities and states more authority over incoming refugees.“Our state was founded by religious refugees fleeing persecution in the Eastern United States,” Herbert wrote. “As a result we empathize deeply with individuals and groups who have been forced from their homes and we love giving them a new home and a new life.”

In late September, Trump signed an executive order that gives states and cities more authority to accept or reject refugees for resettlement. Herbert said he wrote his letter in direct response to that order, saying he would like to see his own state’s refugee numbers go up.Utah reports accepting 1,555 refugees in fiscal year 2016. By 2018, it was down to 539.

“We know the need has not decreased and are eager to see the number of admittances rise again,” Herbert wrote.

Tara Wolfson would also like to see more refugees accepted into the Mountain West. She directs of the Idaho Office for Refugees, and said refugees have been resettled in Idaho since 1975.

“And they’re really part of our communities and they power our economy, so when people don’t come, I think not only do businesses feel that, but also, you have to remember that we’re talking about people’s family members,” she said.

The global refugee crisis continues to mount with numbers of refugees reaching levels not seen since World War II.

Find reporter Madelyn Beck on Twitter @MadelynBeck8

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

Madelyn Beck
Madelyn Beck is Boise State Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. She's from Montana but has reported everywhere from North Dakota to Alaska to Washington, D.C. Her last few positions included covering energy resources in Wyoming and reporting on agriculture/rural life issues in Illinois.
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