Rep. Runestad introduces bills requiring refugee placement to become safer and more transparent

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State Rep. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, today introduced legislation to make refugee placements in Michigan both safe and more transparent, while also giving local government a voice in the process as required by federal immigration law.

House Bills 5528-5529 will protect both our communities and refugees entering our communities.

Michigan receives more refugees per capita than any other state in the nation, but it lacks a framework for defining how many refugees and families our state is capable of serving.

“There is currently no system involving state and local governments for oversight of refugees entering the state,” said Rep. Runestad. “This is not only a security risk to our state, but is wide open for human trafficking abuses.

“As a parent, I have a duty to protect my children, and as a state lawmaker, I have a duty to protect the rights of our local governments and our rights under the U.S. Constitution and federal law.”

Rep. Runestad said federal immigration law requires that local governments be notified prior to placement of refugees in their communities and that they be involved in the process of placement and defining their local capacity for refugee placements.

 “This is being totally ignored leaving counties, schools and the state in the dark until placements have been made,” said Rep. Runestad. “Moreover, placements are made without regard to the ability of the school district to provide services or employability opportunities for the individual refugee.

“The bills I introduced today propose an outline for communication between state departments and local governments in order to maximize placement success and minimize security risks for the state and refugees as allowed under current immigration law.”

HBs 5528-5529 are referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Ethics.

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