Aurora lawmakers to decide Trump administration refugee policy

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AURORA | The Aurora City Council is slated to discuss how the city will formally respond to the Trump administration query whether it wants future refugees to be resettled in the city.

Texas will no longer accept the resettlement of new refugees, becoming the first state known to do so under the recent Trump administration order, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday. In a state-of-the state address also on Friday, Gov. Jared Polis reaffirmed Colorado’s position on being open to immigrants and refugees.

The Aurora City Council is set to consider a resolution that affirms to the federal government that the city consents to refugees resettlement. The decision will be in response to an unusual executive order from the Trump administration, which was issued in September. 

Refugees, after strict vetting, can be resettled throughout the U.S., but will now only be allowed to benefit from resettlement agencies in the first 90 days of their residency in states and municipalities that declare they consent to refugee resettlement. 

In the last two years Aurora has become home to at least 335 designated refugees, but that number has sharply decreased because of changes to the program made by the Trump administration. 

Jennifer Wilson, executive director of the International Rescue Committee in Denver, said it’s not likely that the entire state will see more than 300 refugees resettled this year.

Without consenting to refugee resettlement, refugees arriving in the U.S. can still decide to live in Aurora, but they wouldn’t benefit from many services provided from resettlement agencies. Wilson said that could present issues for arriving refugees who already have family in Aurora.

“It really comes to the heart of the question of who we are as a city and it forces (us) to confront (whether) we want to continue be a welcoming city to all who want to call it home or do we want to fence it off?” Mayor Mike Coffman told the Sentinel of the decision the lawmakers will have to make.

The city council could have decided to allow Coffman, a former Republican congressman, to pen a letter to the U.S. State Department consenting refugee resettlement. Coffman said he believed the resolution to be a better option and plans to support it.

Before the meeting, the city is holding an hour-long commemoration for Martin Luther King Jr. in the lobby of the Aurora Municipal Center. It’s set to begin at 6:30 p.m.

The city council is scheduled to also decide spending $1 million for new police vehicles.

If the contract is given the green light at Monday’s meeting, Aurora police will purchase 26 2020 Chevy Tahoe Police Pursuit Vehicles from John Elway Chevrolet in Englewood. 21 of those are replacement vehicles, according to city documents.