Grand Traverse County opts-in to federal refugee resettlement

Jan 8, 2020

Grand Traverse County Commissioners listen to public speakers during the Feb. 6 board meeting.
Credit Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

International refugees can continue resettlement in Grand Traverse County through the federal government, according to a unanimous vote of the county board of commissioners Wednesday morning.

Last September, President Donald Trump signed an executive order allowing 18,000 screened and approved refugees to settle in the U.S. through the State Department. However, individual states and cities must opt-in to the program for refugees to move to those areas.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer already signed Michigan up for the program last month, and now Grand Traverse County has joined in.

"Many countries, including the United States, operate resettlement programs that enable some of the most vulnerable refugees to relocate fromtheir country of asylum to a third country where they can permanently resettle and rebuild their lives," a representative of Bethany Christian Services wrote to commissioners.

Commissioner Bryce Hundley added that the vote was an easy decision.

"We as Americans have the capacity in our resources and in our hearts to always help people in need," Hunldey said.

Organizations like Bethany Christian Services in Traverse City have already offered to house refugees through the program.