A letter from the IRC in Denver's Executive Director Jennifer Wilson to IRC's supporters in Colorado.
Dear IRC supporter,
Last month, I reached out to our supporters with an urgent take action to ensure continued refugee resettlement in local communities across the Denver Metro Area. Today, I’m happy to share that we have made tremendous progress! All the same, we still need your help as we are trying to secure consent from several remaining cities that are voting on resolutions tonight and tomorrow night.
Residents of the below communities, please attend an upcoming meeting and make comment in support of refugees if you are able; if attending is not an option, please take a few minutes to contact your elected officials to express your support. You’ll find their contact information here.
City Councils and County Commissions Voting on Resolutions Tonight and Tomorrow
- Adams County (Monday 1/13)
- Aurora (Monday 1/13)
- Longmont (Tuesday 1/14)
- Northglenn (Monday 1/13)
- Thornton (Tuesday 1/14)
- Westminster (Monday 1/13)
Cities and Counties that Have Yet to Consider a Resolution on Consent
- Lafayette (in progress)
- Lakewood (in progress)
We would also appreciate your help thanking the cities and counties that have consented thus far. Their leadership in standing with refugees to ensure our state continues to welcome refugees and offer opportunities to live free from persecution is invaluable.
Resolutions Passed or Consent Provided
- Arapahoe County
- Boulder (City)
- Boulder County
- Douglas County
- Jefferson County
- State of Colorado
What’s going on?
On September 26, 2019, President Trump issued Executive Order (EO) 13888 which drastically changes the way resettlement agencies (RAs), like the IRC, engage with state and local jurisdictions. The EO mandates that RAs obtain written consent from the state and local jurisdictions where they intend to, or could potentially, place a newly-arriving refugee family or individual.
- Written consent is now required as part of each RA’s annual proposal for funding to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, which is due January 21, 2020.
- This proposal and the subsequent grant awards and approved placement plans determine which RAs will be funded and where they will be allowed to welcome and resettle refugees coming through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
- Before EO 13888, RAs were required to engage in consultation with communities where 25 or more refugees were resettled annually. However, there was no requirement for each jurisdiction to provide explicit consent for initial resettlement of refugees.
- RAs have been resettling refugees in communities across our state since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980—nearly 40 years—with no requirement for local consent.
What happens if local consent is not provided?
If written consent is not obtained from local governments, RAs will be restricted from initially placing refugees within that city or county—even if a newly-arriving refugee has a spouse, child, parent, or other close relation already residing in that jurisdiction.
However, because refugees arrive with legal status and freedom of mobility, they could decide to self-place in a jurisdiction where consent has not been obtained. If that happens, RAs will not be able to provide services to that individual or family for their first 90 days in the U.S.— a vital time when critical supports and services occur, including ESL enrollment, job readiness and job placement, cultural orientation, school enrollment, initial health screenings, and connections to medical and mental health resources.
Why does this matter?
- The lack of local consent can prevent refugees from being reunited with their loved ones. RAs will not be able to place a newly-arriving refugee individual or family in the same location as their family members if that family member resides in a jurisdiction that has not provided consent.
- The lack of local consent can prevent refugees from receiving vital services and support. Refugees can still opt to resettle in areas where local consent is lacking, but they will forfeit the services and support typically provided by the RAs during their initial 90 days following arrival. This is a crucial period in which RAs provide extensive services and supports that help build a foundation for longer-term success, economic self-reliance, and integration.
- Communities that do not consent will not have access to the technical assistance and community support RAs provide, including training for police, fire and first responders about working with refugee populations and supporting school districts, health clinics and other providers as they work to provide trauma-informed and culturally and linguistically appropriate services.
How can you help?
Elected officials at the state, county and city levels need to hear directly from their residents. They must know that this time-sensitive issue is important to their community. Countless refugees who call Colorado home and refugees overseas approved for resettlement in the U.S. are at risk.
With a mid-January deadline, the window of opportunity to secure local consent is quickly closing. Now is the time for action on the part of the counties and cities that have yet to provide their consent.
We need your help. Please get involved today:
- Write, call or visit your mayor and city council members
- Write, call or visit your county commissioners and county manager
- Participate in public comment at an upcoming city council meeting in your community
- Show your gratitude for communities that have provided consent
Here you will find a full list of priorities contacts and sample language you can use to express your support for refugees. We will update this list as local consent is secured, and also invite you thank local governments that are showing support for refugees in their communities. Download a printable thank you postcard here.
Thank you, as always, for your support. Your advocacy works—we could not have made such great progress without you!
Jennifer Wilson, MNM | Executive Director
International Rescue Committee in Denver