Phoenix, Maricopa County Intend to Keep Welcoming Refugees

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Children Playing Soccer
File - In this Oct. 17, 2019, file photo, members of the volleyball team practice at Valencia Newcomer School in Phoenix. The school is among a handful of such public schools in the United States dedicated exclusively to helping some of the thousands of children who arrive in the country annually. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey told President Donald Trump's administration Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, the state will continue its tradition of welcoming refugees, cheering resettlement agencies that have lobbied the state and local governments to keep opening their arms to people fleeing war and other horrific situations in their native countries. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, file)

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and leaders of Arizona’s largest county on Wednesday followed the governor’s lead in affirming they will continue to welcome refugees who have been vetted by U.S. agencies for resettlement.

Gallego said she will inform the U.S. government of her decision about people fleeing persecution and violence in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

“As one of the top states for refugee resettlement, Arizona would not be the state it is today without the contributions of refugees,” the Democratic mayor said.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed Wednesday to send its own letter.

The moves came after President Donald Trump issued an executive order in September allowing states and cities to reject refugees.

“Today’s vote demonstrates the welcoming spirit of our greater Phoenix community,” said Aaron Rippenkroeger, executive director of the International Rescue Committee in Arizona.

The group is among four nonprofit groups that resettle refugees in the state. He said refugee resettlement in the U.S. is a ”proud, bipartisan tradition.”

Phoenix is in Maricopa County. The Board of Supervisors for Pima County, where Tucson is located, voted last week to keep accepting refugees.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey informed the Trump administration Friday of his decision regarding resettlement.

The number of refugees who settled in Arizona plunged from 4,110 people in fiscal year 2016 to 998 in 2018, then rose slightly to 1,216 for the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30.

Refugees have come to the state from Congo, Myanmar, Syria, Cuba and other countries.

Republished with the Permission of the Associated Press.

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