The Journal Gazette
Friday, January 03, 2020 1:00 am


The Hoosier heart

State, Allen County extend welcome to refugees

Gov. Eric Holcomb last month joined a growing list of governors endorsing refugee resettlement in their states, rejecting an opportunity to close their doors to any of the 18,000 refugees the Trump administration will allow in 2020. An executive order requires state leaders to provide written consent for resettlement by Jan. 21.

“Our long tradition of welcoming and helping to resettle refugees with support from our federal partners, shows the world the compassion of Hoosiers and our willingness to give others the ability to grow and prosper in the great state of Indiana,” Holcomb wrote in a Dec. 13 letter.

The Indiana governor is among 30-plus who have now issued letters in support of resettlement. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio has also sent a letter of consent. While 16 governors have yet to respond to this month's deadline, none have specifically said they will reject refugees. Daniel Horowitz, writing for the Conservative Review, called out Holcomb and other GOP governors for “quietly undermining Trump's promise to shut down the refugee resettlement racket.”

Indiana resettled 865 refugees in fiscal 2019, according to federal data. That was close to 3% of all refugees resettled in the U.S.

In Fort Wayne, Catholic Charities oversees resettlement. In the last fiscal year, the agency assisted 208 refugees in resettling here: 176 Burmese, 14 from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 10 from Russia, five from Ukraine and three from Burundi. 

The requirement for written consent to continue participating is also required by local government, which the Allen County commissioners also have submitted. In Marion County, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett submitted a letter of consent.

In 2015, Gov. Mike Pence shut the door on Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their war-torn country. Hoosiers spoke loudly against his heartless response to a humanitarian crisis. In enthusiastically approving refugee resettlement, his successor better reflects our values.

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