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Tonight's the last debate before the South Carolina primaries, but it's also the last before Super Tuesday, which includes California and its 494 delegates.

Trump Order: Communities Must Opt In to Refugee Resettlement

Refugees have resettled in more than 600 counties across the United States. (Adobe Stock)
Refugees have resettled in more than 600 counties across the United States. (Adobe Stock)
December 26, 2019

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Now that President Donald Trump's executive order changing the refugee resettlement process has gone into effect, critics say they are less worried about states and communities refusing to accept refugees and more concerned about the administration's overall strategy to curtail legal immigration.

Fred Tsao, senior policy counsel at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, says the order that took effect on Christmas Day requires communities to proactively opt into accepting refugees.

"So, in other words, local communities and states can veto their participation," says Tsao. "It's not so much a matter of concern that local communities will reject refugees coming into the United States. It's more a matter, I think, of local communities not realizing that they have to opt in."

The administration already has instituted additional screenings and cut back on the number of refugees who are resettled each year.

Tsao says resettlement agencies have until next month to submit their applications. Tsao says the order is just another step taken to shrink the ability of people who come into the U.S. legally to make a life for themselves.

"They talk a lot about trying to stop unauthorized immigration, or the phrase they use, 'illegal immigration.' But they're also taking any number of steps and measures to limit legal immigration as well," says Tsao.

He says many people still have misconceptions about who refugees are.

"Refugees go through incredibly rigorous screening," says Tsao. "From the very outset, refugees are people who are fleeing persecution in their home countries."

Since 1975, Illinois has resettled more than 123,000 refugees from more than 60 countries, according to the state Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - IL