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Tooele County Joins Gov. Herbert, Other Utah Governments In Supporting Refugee Resettlement

A photo of a poster, displayed in a restaurant window and featuring a bearded man, reads refugees are welcome here.
Kelsie Moore
RadioWest Films
Tooele County has sent a letter to the Trump administration in support of refugee resettlement. The administration put out an executive order in September asking states and local governments to opt in to the country’s resettlement program. ";

Tooele County is the latest Utah group to tell the Trump administration that it welcomes refugees. The county’s three commissioners signed a letter Monday that was sent to President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

“Utah has a history of accepting people different than ourselves and integrating them into our workforce and we think they make good citizens,” said Tom Tripp, the commission chairman for Tooele County. 

In September, Trump passed an executive order which gave states and local governments until Dec. 25 to say whether they wanted to participate in the country’s refugee resettlement program or not. 

A month later, Gov. Gary Herbert sent his own letter to the president asking him to send more refugees to Utah. Other places that have sent similar letters include Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties and Salt Lake City

Natalie El-Deiry is the executive director of the International Rescue Committee, one of Utah’s two refugee resettlement agencies. She said consent letters from Summit and Wasatch counties are pending but can be sent in past the Dec. 25 deadline.

“The support from the surrounding counties is truly a model to be seen throughout the country,” she said. “Securing their consent for the White House was an opportunity for us to open the discussion about refugee resettlement and really just the starting point for the IRC and CCS to engage in more dialogue with the surrounding communities outside of Salt Lake County.”

Aden Batar is the director of migration and refugee services at Catholic Community Services of Utah. He said these letters mean the agencies can continue doing their work in the state. 

“We would like to welcome more refugees to Utah so we can save their lives and give them the opportunity to restart their lives,” said Batar, who is a refugee himself. 

Earlier this year, the Trump administration set the new cap for refugee resettlement at 18,000. Batar said together, both groups hope to resettle 400 to 500 refugees in Utah next year.

Rocio is coming to KUER after spending most of her life under the blistering Las Vegas sun and later Phoenix. She earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism and Spanish at the University of Nevada, Reno. She did brief stints at The Associated Press, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Reno Public Radio. She enjoys wandering through life with her husband and their toy poodle.
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