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Posted on: January 3, 2020

Letter from the Mayor | Response to Refugee Letter of Consent

Letter from the Mayor | Response to Refugee Letter of Consent

"I continue to receive numerous inquiries in response to the Refugee Letter of Consent published on Thursday, December 12, 2019, by the City of Dodge City. I wanted to take the opportunity to provide the history of that consent and clarify everyone’s concerns.

Simply stated, this is a mere continuance of the same program the City has approved for more than 45-years by allowing people legally entering America to come to our community. Cooperating with the Federal Government toward accepting Refugees that legally enter America is something the City of Dodge City has complied with for 45-years that I can recall. It’s been much longer than that, but I don’t know exactly when the City of Dodge City officially started accepting refugees legally entering America. The letter of consent is simply a new compliance requirement by President Donald J. Trump set forth by Executive Order 13888 and requires that the letter be publicly posted, which is the only difference from how this process has occurred in the past.

The Federal government, State, nor the City of Dodge City provides shelter or financial assistance to refugees entering the City under President Trump’s Executive Order 13888. A requirement in Executive Order 13888 is that the community must have an organization that can help the refugees upon arrival complete certain government requirements (i.e., get a job, obtain a driver’s license & seek medical evaluation all within 90-days of arrival) to aid the refugees in becoming productive members of our society. Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas is the local group that performs this task throughout Southwest Kansas and has aided in refugee resettlement since 1975. Their goal is to help refugees meet the requirements as defined in Executive Order 13888 set forth by the federal government upon arrival in the United States. The federal government used to have its own agency located in Garden City that completed this process for Southwest Kansas. However, the number of refugees coming to Southwest Kansas did not meet the minimum guidelines to retain the office, and it was closed. Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas then stepped in to assist in the government’s absence. The majority settle in Liberal, Garden City and Dodge City. While the number of refugees coming to Southwest Kansas has been less than 50, I expect that number to be even less going forward as President Trump has reduced the number of refugees entering America by 82%.

You are asking, are refugees entering the United States without inspection or illegally? The answer is no. The definition of a refugee is someone who has fled their country due to persecution based on their ethnicity, nationality, religion, political opinion, or social group. They are individuals who must receive a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for consideration as a refugee. If they receive a referral, refugees complete an application and then are interviewed abroad by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency that will determine whether they are eligible for refugee resettlement in the United States. Refugee status is determined on a case-by-case basis through the interview process. During the interview, USCIS examines all relevant evidence, including testimony, to determine if the individual meets requirements and is admissible under U.S. Law. USCIS also confirms that security checks have been completed, and the results of the checks are reviewed and analyzed before approval.

Refugee resettlement is the most challenging way to enter the U.S., and refugees are the most thoroughly vetted individuals in the U.S., going through all screenings before they step on U.S. soil. The vetting process includes biometric and biographic checks; interagency intelligence sharing; screenings against multiple domestic and international terrorist and criminal databases; background investigations by the FBI, Department of Defense, State Department, and National Counterterrorism Center; and in-person interviews by Homeland Security officers. This investigation takes 18-24 months to complete per individual due to the intensity of the investigation; therefore, it is the least successful route for a terrorist or religious radical to enter America. Refugees from around the globe may apply under Executive Order 13888 except those from 7-specific countries that are deemed religious radicals, train or shelter terrorists.

The average workforce participation rate of refugees is 81.8%, above the national average. Many industries, like hospitality and meatpacking, rely on refugee workers — Cargill and National Beef employee most of the refugees in Dodge City. Garden City last week stated that Refugees have played an important role toward their growth over several years and their ability to attract retail and new business. If Dodge City wants to do the same, then we too, must find responsible ways to grow our workforce and population.

It is for all these reasons that the City of Dodge City decided to continue its more than 45-year tradition and grant the letter of consent to Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas under the supervision of President Donald J. Trump. We believe that refugees fill the unemployment gap in jobs that are the least desirable and make an overall economic impact on our local economy.

If I could abbreviate this entire letter, I would tell you that my signature as Mayor supporting the Refugee Consent Letter is simply a continuance of what this City has done for more than 45-years only this time under the supervision and guidelines of President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order 13888.

I hope this answers questions, concerns, confusion & miscommunication toward the truth of what is factually happening in our community now and in the past. If you still have additional concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to attend a City Commission meeting and share your thoughts. The City Commission meetings are the 1st & 3rd Mondays of the month at City Hall, starting at 7 pm. There is a meeting this coming Monday, January 6th. Citizens can come before the Commission during the Visitors section to discuss any topic they desire. The Visitors section is shortly after the opening of the meeting. Therefore, I recommend being in attendance by 7 pm. You may leave any time after making your comments or remain for the entire meeting — a very citizen-friendly process.

Mayor Brian Delzeit"

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