HUTCHINSON: Will defend his decision to continue refugee resettlement program.

Governor Hutchinson will address the legislature’s joint committee on City, County and Local Affairs this morning to discuss his decision to continue to allow refugee resettlement in Arkansas. Expect some grandstanding from the legislature’s demagogues. [UPDATE: The grandstanding has begun; you can watch a livestream of the meeting here.]

Under an executive order from President Trump, states have the option to opt out of a resettlement program for legal refugees. The program involves an extensive vetting process before religious and other good samaritan groups welcome the refugees and help them establish homes in the United States.

Hutchinson announced last month that Arkansas will not avail itself of the Trump option to refuse these refugees. That didn’t sit well with fear-mongering legislators such as Republican senators Trent Garner and Bob Ballinger.

Advertisement

Now they’ll get their chance to grill the governor for the cameras, with the meeting set for 9 a.m. Garner, who first raised his objections during Christmas week, recently touted today’s meeting as an opportunity “to ask the hard questions that need to be answered about the refugee resettlement issue.”

The immigrant advocacy group Arkansas United will be on hand, along with a number of other groups backing the governor’s decision. They will have individuals in attendance who are directly impacted by the resettlement program. From a press release from Arkansas United:

Immigrant advocacy organization Arkansas United, refugee resettlement agency Canopy and local and regional faith leaders will be in attendance of the 9am Senate and House joint Committee hearing of City, County and Local Affairs in MAC Room A, in a demonstration of support of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson testimony regarding his recent decision to continue refugee resettlement to Arkansas. Upon conclusion of the Committee meeting, our organizations and members will host a press opportunity at the Old Supreme Court room to share reactions to the hearing.
Hutchinson is one of more than 40 governors from both parties who have stated that they will continue to accept refugees. The only governor who has announced plans to use the waiver offered by the Trump administration is Republican Greg Abbott of Texas.