Gov. Gary Herbert wrote a letter to President Donald Trump asking if more refugees could resettle in Utah. This comes weeks after the president's executive order, which limits the number of refugees, went into effect.
The order requires official consent from state and local governments in order for the federal government to resettle refugees in a given area. It also caps the annual number of refugees to 18,000. In 2018, the cap was 30,000 and in 2017 it was 100,000. This impacts all refugees coming through the U.S. Department of State, the Associated Press reported.
In response to the order, Herbert wrote Utah has "resettled more than 1,000 refugees" each year, but has recently seen the number decrease. "We know the need has not decreased," Herbert wrote, " and we are eager to see the number of admittances rise again."
Herbert spoke of Utah's "unique history," stating the Beehive state was founded by religious refugees who fled persecution.
Those experiences and hardships of our pioneer ancestors 170 years ago are still fresh in the mind of many Utahns. As a result, we empathize deeply with individuals and groups who have been forced from their homes and we love giving them a new home and a new life.
The Utah governor acknowledged that there is a "logical limit to how many refugees" can be integrated into the community, but he says Utah is "far from reaching the limit."
Herbert finished the letter by asking Trump to allow refugees to resettle in Utah.
Read the entire letter here:
"Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for your willingness to work with governors and solicit our input and expertise on policies that impact states.
I write you today in response to your recent executive order grading refugee resettlement policies and your expressed desire to work more closely with state and local leaders. I encourage you to allow us to accept more international refugees in Utah. We have historically accepted and resettled more than 1,000 refugees each year from a variety of troubled regions of the world. Unfortunately, that number has dropped for the past two years and is on track to decrease more this year. We know the need has not decreased and we are eager to see the number of admittances rise again.
Utah's unique history informs our approach to refugees. Our state was founded by religious refugees fleeing persecution in the eastern United States. Those experiences and hardships of our pioneer ancestors 170 years ago are still fresh in the mind of many Utahns. As a result, we empathize deeply with individuals and groups who have been forced from their homes and we love giving them a new home and a new life.
And it turns out we do it quite well. Those refugees who resettle in Utah become integrated and accepted into our communities. They become productive employees and responsible citizens. They become contributors in our schools, churches and other civic institutions, even helping serve more recent refugees and thus generating a beautiful cycle of charity.
I also recognize that there is a logical limit to how many refugees can be successfully integrated into a state or nation in a given period of time. However, in Utah we are far from reaching the limit. We work closely with our local resettlement agencies and many faith based organizations, and we have the capacity and public will to resettle and integrate at least as many refugees as we have in the past.
Sincerely and best wishes,
Gary R. Herbert, Governor.