Gov. Hogan considering if Maryland will continue accepting refugees; state and counties must decide by Jan. 21

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is one of about a dozen GOP governors who have yet to decide whether to accept new refugees through a U.S. State Department program. Hogan is shown in this Dec. 5, 2019, photo at the State House in Annapolis. Hogan is shown in this Dec. 11, 2019, at a news conference in downtown Baltimore.

If Maryland wants to continue accepting refugees, Gov. Larry Hogan has less than a month to tell the Trump administration.

An executive order in September from Republican President Donald Trump dictates that states and local governments must, for the first time, issue written consent allowing refugees to resettle within their jurisdictions.


So far, more than 30 governors representing both parties have signaled their intent to continue welcoming new refugees, according to the Baltimore-based World Relief organization. They include the governors of neighboring Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

In Maryland, which has accepted roughly 10,000 refugees since 2016, the Republican governor has not yet taken a public stance.


“We will continue to work with our federal partners and stakeholders as we review the executive order and the process,” Hogan’s spokesman, Mike Ricci, wrote Thursday in a statement.

Trump issued the Sept. 26 order after slashing the number of refugees that will be allowed into the United States in 2020 to a historic low of 18,000. It said the federal government should resettle refugees only in jurisdictions where both state and local governments have consented to receive refugees under the State Department’s Reception and Placement Program. Trump says his administration acted to respect communities that believe they do not have enough jobs to support new residents.

Hogan is one of about a dozen GOP governors who have yet to respond, as they must by Jan. 21 so resettlement agencies can secure federal funding in time to plan where to place refugees.

In 2015, governors from 31 states — nearly all with Republican governors, including Hogan — sought to refuse Syrian refugees, citing terrorism concerns. But they didn’t have the legal authority at the time to block them.

Now that they do, no one so far has opted to shut out refugees. One North Dakota county voted this month to accept no more than 25 refugees next year, after initially signaling it would be the first to ban them.

Local leaders in Maryland have begun drafting letters that lay out their commitment to welcoming refugees.

Democratic Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young of Baltimore announced Dec. 20 that he was first to respond in Maryland, saying refugees are among the city’s hardworking business owners, community leaders and students. “Our neighborhoods cannot afford to lose the contributions refugees provide,” he said in a statement.

Three refugee resettlement agencies sued Trump to block the executive order, and the city of Baltimore filed a brief in support of the lawsuit.


Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., a Democrat, expects to send a letter early next year indicating his willingness to accept refugee resettlements, according to a spokesman. He said the message was especially important during the holiday season, when people are reminded of the call to welcome strangers as their neighbors.

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“Baltimore County is — and will continue to be ⁠— a welcoming place for those seeking asylum from persecution and countries ravaged by war," Olszewski wrote in a statement.

Democratic County Executive Calvin Ball said the president’s order doesn’t align with Howard County’s “ideals of diversity and inclusion.”

“Refugees and asylum seekers are an integral and engaged part of our community," he wrote in a statement, "and will always be welcome here, as a county that is dedicated to creating a better quality of life for all.”

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman hasn’t considered the matter as of Monday, county spokesperson Cindy Mumby said, “but we will continue to follow state and federal law.”

The Carroll County Board of Commissioners has not yet discussed this issue.


More than 80 local governments in the U.S. have written letters welcoming refugees. Many are rural towns in conservative states that have come to rely on young refugees to revitalize their economies.

The Associated Press and Baltimore Sun Media Group editor Wayne Carter contributed to this article.