In a story that broke before Christmas, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that Louisiana will continue to accept refugees. The decision comes as a result of a recent change in refugee policy announced by the Trump administration which gives states the discretion whether or not to accept refugees.
From the AP:
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is one of more than 30 governors to tell President Donald Trump that their states will continue to accept refugees.
Trump issued an executive order allowing states to opt out of the federal refugee resettlement process. Edwards, a Democrat, sent in paperwork Friday saying Louisiana would continue to consent to refugee resettlement.
“The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops appealed to Gov. Edwards to consent to the continued resettlement in writing, as required by a new federal executive order,” Christina Stephens, Edwards’ spokeswoman, said Monday. The action “will allow Catholic Charities to continue to provide valuable support and lawful refuge to these people in their time of great need, which Gov. Edwards strongly supports.”
The Archbishop of New Orleans applauded the decision to accept refugees.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond, of New Orleans, thanked Edwards on a Facebook post for the sending consent to the U.S. Secretary of State. “Symbolically, it says ‘There is room in the inn for those who seek refuge from war, persecution or natural disaster within their country of origin. This is what Jesus would do and we want to be like him,” Aymond posted.
A brief aside here because Archbishop Aymond should read his Bible again. Jesus was born in a manger because the inn didn’t have room because Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem to get counted in a census in order to pay taxes.
Having said that, there won’t be much of an outcry on this decision aside from some immigration hardliners on social media. Why? For starters, this story broke on Christmas week and no one is paying attention to politics right now.
Most importantly, the refugee issue doesn’t have the punch that it would’ve in 2015 or 2016. The Trump administration has already reduced refugee numbers over the years as part of a goal to reduce legal immigration into the U.S. in general. In addition, the Syrian Civil War has been overshadowed by other issues. Finally, many evangelical Christians and libertarian-leaning Republicans are in support of admitting refugees.
There is also the issue that Louisiana won’t be taking in very many refugees anyway.
The only way this decision could come back to bite Governor Edwards is if a refugee winds up committing a crime or a terrorist act in Louisiana. Statistically, such a scenario is highly unlikely but it cannot be ruled out.
The refugee decision by Edwards won’t cause much controversy because of the timing and because of the fact the refugee issue has largely already played itself out.