It was January 15th, 2021 when Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota dropped a bombshell- they were closing up shop effective immediately.  You can catch up to that story here.

The organization started over 100 years ago with a mission to assist neglected children and orphans.  In the last few decades much of their resources have been focused on sheltering the homeless and finding places for refugees displaced by wars around the world.  It was overreaching in housing that brought the organization to such a sudden demise.

Now with so many family's future in the balance, Governor Doug Burgum made this announcement on Monday January 25th-

Gov. Doug Burgum on Monday announced that the state Department of Human Services will take over refugee resettlement after the private agency that has managed resettlement, Lutheran Social Services, shuts down.

Burgum said it’s essential for the state to step in to administer the federally funded program or it risks losing control.

This is an especially tenuous situation when coupled with the goals of the new Biden administration.  The Associated Press reports that under the Trump administration, refugee admissions had been cut 85% limiting 2021 admissions to 15,000 persons. On the campaign trail, Joe Biden had promised to move that number to 125,000 refugees  in 2021.  Those are national numbers, but you can see how the Trump administration's cuts affected numbers here in North Dakota.

North Dakota resettled 124 refugees in fiscal year 2019 and 44 refugees in fiscal year 2020, according to Burgum’s office.

You may recall that in December 2019, The Burleigh County Commission voted to accept refugees after signaling the possibility of implementing a ban based upon the Trump administration deferring the decision to state and county governments. The ban would have been the first in the nation.  After a 3-2 vote, a cap was placed at 25 refugees for 2020.  The Commission meeting had to be moved to Horizon School to accommodate the crowd of over 450 citizens voicing concerns on both sides of the issue.

So now in 2021, North Dakota is in...will the counties follow? I suspect the clock is ticking on that decision as I'm sure federally removing the power of local governments to ban refugee admission is not too far down the road.

Stay civil y'all.


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