In the past few months, we have seen many state and local elected officials question the American tradition of providing safe harbor to refugees fleeing horrific violence and war. Governor Otter went so far as to ask the Federal government to not only block Syrian refugees but to halt the entire U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program.
It is essential to understand that the city, county and state do not have the jurisdiction to deny refugees that the Federal government chooses to resettle. There is no resolution of the city or county that can stop refugees from coming to our state. However, there is something that we can do to strengthen Sandpoint’s identity as a city of tolerance that protects human rights.
The Governor and county officials are well intentioned with their concern for the safety of our citizens. As your mayor, safety of our residents is my priority as well.
I’m thankful that the council has tabled the issue to give adequate time to consider public input and study the issue more closely. My hope is that council can develop a resolution that demonstrates the cities commitment to religious and ethnic tolerance and that Sandpoint can stand united as an advocate for human rights.
Mayor Shelby Rognstad