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Northern Minnesota county bans refugee resettlements

BEMIDJI, Minn. (AP) — A northern Minnesota county on Tuesday night banned the resettlement of refugees within its boundaries, becoming the first in the state and the second in the nation to do so.

By a 3-2 vote, the Beltrami County board of commissioners voted to deny consent to refugee resettlement. The move is allowed by local governments under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump.

“I think we will be making history today,” Commissioner Reed Olson said before the vote. Olson was one of two commissioners who voted for refugee resettlement.

However, the move will have little practical effect as no refugees have been resettled in Beltrami County in the past five years.

The vote drew applause from many of the crowd of more than 150 people crowding the board chambers in Bemidji, Minnesota, which is about 140 miles (225 kilometers) northwest of Duluth. The meeting was marked by jeers, shouts and accusations from the crowd, most of the members of which opposed refugee resettlement.

The nation’s first county to ban refugee resettlement was Appomattox County, Virginia, where commissioners voted 4-1 on Dec. 17 to deny consent to resettlement. The Beltrami County vote came a night after commissioners in Burleigh County in neighboring North Dakota voted 3-2 to limit refugee resettlement to 25 people in 2020.