Associated Press Published

Gov. Justice: West Virginia Will Keep Accepting Refugees

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice talks about his budget proposal during a stop on his Save Our State Tour on Thursday, March 3, 2017, at Fairmont State University.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Friday that his state will keep accepting refugees, declining an offer by President Donald Trump’s administration that lets states halt resettlement.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Republican governor wrote that refugees are vetted and approved by the appropriate federal agencies. He also praised the refugees who have made West Virginia their new home and lauded the state’s resettlement agency, which has been in operation since 1978.

“Refugees who have resettled here have become productive citizens and are welcomed into our West Virginia family,” Justice wrote.

West Virginia has resettled fewer than 10 refugees in the 2019 budget year, according to the Pew Research Center.

So far, no states have said they plan to stop accepting refugees under Trump’s order. About half of the states have consented.

Even if a state opts out under Trump’s order, refugees could still move there — but they wouldn’t get funding for medical assistance and screenings, employment, social adjustment services and English language training. 

In September, Trump slashed the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. and authorized state and local governments to refuse to accept them. An executive order says that if a state or a locality has not consented to receive refugees under the State Department’s Reception and Placement Program, then refugees should not be resettled within the state or locality unless the secretary of state decides otherwise.

Some resettlement groups have sued to block Trump’s order.