LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Governor Asa Hutchinson announced today that the state of Arkansas will continue to allow refugees relocate in the state. He said, “A refugee is not someone who crosses our borders illegally or someone who enters our country and claims asylum. A refugee coming to America is not an illegal entrant.”
City, County, and Local Affairs committee chairman State Senator Gary Stubblefield (R – District 4) pressed about the cost to taxpayers the governor responded by pointing out a Trump Administration report that said the economic impact of refugees in the United States was a net positive of $16.9 billion. Stubblefield also pointed out that refugees are getting benefits that are not afforded to veterans to which Gov. Hutchinson responded that refugees are not given any benefits that are beyond what any citizen can qualify for.
Gov. Hutchinson also said relocation will only be permitted in the areas that put in writing that they will allow for it. Those areas are Washington County, Springdale, and Fayetteville.
When asked by Stubblefield about if refugees would cause potential problems the governor responded, “It’s not any different than people who are granted visas that come to our country, we’re a free country, we’re human beings. While I have confidence in the vetting process and the checks that have been made there’s never a guarantee that one of the 150 that have come over here the last few years might violate a law of some kind, that’s always a potential.”
Gov. Hutchinson also added despite having different cultures being added to the mix he noted that many other cultures celebrate their heritage while maintaining their Americanism.
State Senator Greg Leding (D – District 6) said in a press conference after the committee meeting, “As far as I know the lawmakers that actually represent Washington County, Fayetteville, and Springdale, the places that will be open to refugees, the lawmakers who’ve all spoken publicly all support the placement of refugees. The concerns expressed by lawmakers today represent other parts of the state.”
Hutchinson added that approximately 18,000 refugees will be allowed into the country this year and out of that about 50 will be relocated to Arkansas.
Governor Hutchinson’s full opening remarks can be seen below.