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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota county on Monday voted to accept no more than 25 refugees next year, after initially signaling it would be the first to ban them since President Donald Trump ordered that states and counties should have the power to do so.
Vote - Burleigh - County - Commission - Provision
The 3-2 vote by the Burleigh County Commission, which included a provision for further study of the issue, followed a four-hour meeting and came a week after a vote was postponed when the audience overflowed the county's usual meeting space. If commissioners had voted no, refugee resettlement groups say they believe Burleigh — home to about 95,000 people and the capital city of Bismarck — would have been be the first local government to do so since Trump's executive order in September.
Burleigh County doesn't receive many refugees — just 24 in fiscal 2019, after 22 the year before — but interest in the vote has been intense. Monday's meeting was shifted to Horizon Middle School cafeteria, where a standing-room-only crowd of more than 450 people showed up testifying for and against refugee resettlement. Inside the building, a significant presence of police and county deputies was apparent.
Refugees - Testimony - Commission - Arrivals
Several refugees, in often emotional testimony, urged the commission to continue accepting new arrivals.
"Look at the room and tell every immigrant here that they are not welcomed," said Geraldine Ambe, who moved to Bismarck from Cameroon and is now a U.S. citizen. She said her aunt and her husband and their four children "ran from Nigeria to seek protection.
Look - Face - 'we - Ambe
"Please look at her face and tell her 'we can't help you,'" Ambe said.
"People think we are lazy and just sit at home and get the government money," said 20-year-old Tresor Mugwaneza, who came from the Congo four years ago. "We are not in this country just to take your...
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