Gov. DeWine Tells President Trump: Refugees Are Welcome In Ohio

Dec 31, 2019

Ohio is ready and willing to accept more refugees, Gov. Mike DeWine told the Trump administration.

Ohio's Republican governor said in a Christmas Eve letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Ohio has a long history of welcoming and assimilating refugees, and will continue to do that through a “well-developed support network, primarily lead by our faith-based communities."

The letter comes in response to a September executive order from President Trump, telling states they must publicly declare if they’ll consent to resettlement of refugees.

"Given our ability to successfully welcome and assimilate legitimate refugees, and the administration's stringent vetting process, I consent to the placement and/or resettlement of refugees within the State of Ohio," DeWine's letter reads.

More than 30 governors – both Republicans and Democrats – have agreed to allow refugee resettlement in their states. But it can be a challenging issue for GOP governors, whose party includes both immigration hardliners and evangelical Christians who have embraced immigrants.

Ohio has a long track record of accepting refugees. Former Gov. John Kasich repeatedly criticized Trump over his rhetoric on immigrants, saying that Ohio's population has been boosted by immigration. In 2018, Kasich established the Office of Opportunities For New Americans to connect immigrants with work and benefits

DeWine hasn't said whether that office continues to do that work.

Around 4% of Ohio's population is foreign-born. Columbus is home to the second largest concentration of Somali refugees in the U.S., and the state also contains large communities of Nepali-Bhutanese refugees.

However, refugee resettlement agencies around the state have seen the number of clients plummet as the Trump administration slashed the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. Trump recently cut the cap on admissions to just 18,000 in 2020, the lowest in the program's history.