Mead Looks To Humanities Council Amid Refugee Debate

Jul 3, 2015

Governor Matt Mead is turning to the Wyoming Humanities Council to facilitate more productive discussion on a refugee resettlement program in the state.

Wyoming is the only state without a resettlement program, and the Governor says misinformation is slowing down progress on the issue.

Wyoming Humanities Council Executive Director Shannon Smith says her group will send experts around the state to lead public discussions about refugee resettlement. 

“I just think our role is to help the state think and bring opportunities for the state to think,” says Smith. “So, if we accomplish that by getting a group of people together around the state and having them understand what a refugee resettlement plan is and how it might help some humans come to our state and have a better life—and it turns out we all make that decision together, then that’s a success.”

Some of those opposed to resettlement—from bloggers to politicians—say refugees could bring disease or terrorism to the state.

Wyoming’s Republican Party drafted a resolution last year opposing refugee resettlement in Wyoming.

It reads, “Therefore Be It Resolved that Wyoming Republican Party is against Governor Mead’s attempt to import refugees into Wyoming and request that the program be open to public scrutiny and comment.”

But Wyoming GOP Party Chair Matt Micheli took a softer stance when reached for comment.

“The Wyoming Republican Party is grateful to Governor Mead for opening up the discussion on refugee resettlement in Wyoming,” Micheli says. “We hope that as the Humanities Council goes around the state, they allow full community involvement and real participation in this process.”

The Humanities Council discussions are likely to begin in November.