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Minnehaha County Commission to continue allowing refugees settle in county

(KSFY)
Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 11:02 AM CST
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The Minnehaha County Commission approved a measure allowing refugees to continue to settle in the county.

The commission discussed the measure in a packed meeting Tuesday morning.

All five board members voted to approve the measure.

Last year, President Donald Trump issued an executive order allowing local governments to opt-out of the Refugee Resettlement Program. So far, a handful of governments have decided to bar refugees, the largest being the state of Texas.

Before giving their vote, commissioners shared their opinions on refugee resettlement in Minnehaha County.

“Our refugee numbers have gone from just about 600 down to less than 100 and the president's allowing us to have the voice to say ‘yes, we welcome people to this community.’ And I for one am not going to be a voice against that,” says Board Member Dean Karsky.

Chofiam Abobakr is one of many refugees who came to Sioux Falls for a better life.

“I still have diary entry from when I was 13 years old reading, 'I can't believe I'm going to America. It is like a dream',” says Abobakr.

She hopes more people will have that same opportunity.

“I thought it's important that we show up and make our voices heard about these issues so we can continue to provide that service and growth in our community,” says Abobakr.

After hearing from nearly 30 people, most of them refugees sharing their stories, the board was all in.

“I think the fact that the vote was unanimous speaks to the values of Sioux Falls and our generosity and kindness and the welcoming environment that we try to provide for all. So, today's a great day. I'm really happy to be here and I can't wait to go and celebrate,” says Abobakr.

The state expects to see 60 to 100 new refugees. They will be placed throughout the state with the opportunity to work or go to school.

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