FENWICK ISLAND – Officials in Fenwick Island took no action last month in responding to a presidential executive order involving refugee resettlement.
At its meeting Jan. 24, the Fenwick Island Town Council took no action on a presidential executive order requiring state and local governments to consent, in writing, to the resettlement of refugees in local jurisdictions.
The executive order, issued by President Donald Trump on Sept. 26, 2019, states that the directive would enhance state and local involvement in the refugee resettlement process.
“State and local governments are best positioned to know the resources and capacities they may or may not have available to devote to sustainable resettlement, which maximizes the likelihood refugees placed in the area will become self-sufficient and free from long-term dependence on public assistance,” the executive order reads. “Some states and localities, however, have viewed the existing consultation as insufficient, and there is a need for closer coordination and a more clearly defined role for State and local governments in the refugee resettlement process. My Administration seeks to enhance these consultations.”
In short, the executive order requires state and local governments to consent, in writing, to the resettlement of refugees in local jurisdictions before they are resettled in states or municipalities under the Department of State’s Reception and Placement Program. If a state or local government does not provide consent, refugees will not be settled in that area unless decided otherwise by the U.S. Secretary of State.
In Delaware, Gov. John Carney has issued a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreeing to continue accepting the resettlement of refugees.
“Our country has historically been a refuge of safe harbor for those fleeing war-torn countries, violence, and political persecution,” his letter reads. “We should continue to stand as a beacon of hope and freedom for people around the world. In that spirit, as Delawareans, we are proud to do our part, and continue to accept the resettlement of refugees.”
Fenwick Island Town Manager Terry Tieman told the council last week the town had received an email from the governor’s office outlining the president’s executive order and the requirements of local governments to essentially opt in to participate in resettling refugees.
She said some communities in Delaware have responded to the executive order and some have not.
“If you read the executive order you will see in there that a lot of the communities just don’t have the infrastructure and assets in order to actually help a refugee make a good resettlement and transition into the United States,” she said. “I think we are one of those places. What I am asking you to do is vote not to respond to this, and that will take care of it. If we were a larger community like Dover or Newark or Milford, perhaps we would have more. But we don’t have adequate transportation here or adequate medical facilities here. We just don’t have those kinds of things available to us to make it a successful resettlement for somebody.”
Councilman Bill Weistling, however, highlighted a recent preliminary injunction blocking the executive order. In November, three faith-based resettlement agencies sued Trump and three of his cabinet secretaries, challenging the executive order and seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief.
On Jan. 15, the plantiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction with respect to the executive order was granted by U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte.
“This is now a nationwide injunction …,” Weistling said. “It’s a moot point now.”
After further discussion, the council took no action in responding to the executive order.