Missoula Continues to Welcome Refugees- State and Local Consent Granted

All the Feels…

It has been a busy time and there is just a lot to keep up with at the end of the year. Of all the things I have recently written about- this good news may be the most important.

For those of you that have been following along, you know that the administration recently signed an Executive Order stating that “States and Localities” must provide formal written consent for refugee resettlement to continue to occur.  Many of us have been working behind the scenes to ensure that resettlement continues in Missoula and we were proud to join the International Rescue Committee and many others this past Wednesday to witness statements from the hearts of individuals in support of refugees, as well as powerful words from refugees themselves. 

It was an incredibly stirring and emotional meeting with very few dry eyes. I am so happy to report that the county commissioners enthusiastically and unanimously agreed to submit the letter of consent, completing the 3 letters that were needed for resettlement to continue in Missoula! Governor Bullock and Mayor Engen submitted their letters earlier this month, with the current national total of States at 28 and Localities at 85 (this includes cities and counties).  

I really can’t convey how incredible the statements were at this meeting.  We heard from volunteers who have been working with families for 2-3 years, an employer with one refugee on staff and an employer who now counts refugees as half of his staff. We heard from other elected officials, from immigration attorneys, and the faith community. And of course, we heard the real stories of struggle, perseverance, and welcome in Missoula like none other from refugees both present and those represented with their written words. I did take a bunch of videos, including a beautiful statement from the county commissioners themselves, but alas… I can’t figure out how to get them to download into any format that I can share here or on Facebook (I can keep working on this but if anyone out there knows how to do this simple thing and wants to show me, that would be amazing! Sheesh!), but do have a couple of the statements in writing, both from SLM board members, that I would like to share with you.

Please take a moment to read this statement from Clem Work, SLM’s President Emeritus and SLM board member and faith leader Pastor Daniel Disch. This second letter is also signed by 13 other faith leaders in our community and both letters will give you an idea of what it felt like to be in that room 2 days ago.

It is hard for me to wrap up this email, because I really don’t feel like I am saying enough or the right words to convey my overwhelming awe and gratitude to Missoula’s residents and elected leaders for the welcome they give refugees.  So a huge thank you to Governor Bullock, Mayor Engen, and the Missoula County Commissioners (give all these folks a call to thank them and to let them know how important this decision was to you!) and of course and always, thank you to YOU for being the back bone to this city’s ability to welcome refugees.

In love and gratitude,

Mary Poole
ED Soft Landing Missoula

PS: Here are a few photos of folks talking.  The videos are a bit more exciting but thought you might like these anyway 😉