After one St. Cloud city leader proposed a moratorium on refugee resettlement, the City Council instead passed a resolution Monday to support being a “just and welcoming community.”
“It is more representative of the feelings of the council at large and of the community, and I’m seeing that tonight,” Council Member Jeff Goerger said before loud applause and a standing ovation from some residents in the packed room.
The resolution, approved by five of the six council members at the meeting, stated that the central Minnesota city “renew[s] our commitment to foster a community in which all people have the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness.”
Hundreds of residents were at City Hall for the contentious meeting, holding signs with conflicting messages: “St. Cloud welcomes all” and “stop refugees now.”
Council Member Jeff Johnson cast the only opposing vote for it after reading his own resolution that seeks a moratorium on the resettlement of additional refugees until the city gets more information about the number moving to the city and cost to taxpayers.
“This is not a ban,” Johnson said then.
Both he and Goerger received cheers for their resolutions from the divided, vocal audience.
In Johnson’s resolution, which he initially planned to bring up Monday but delayed to Nov. 6, he said that “the overall quality of life for St. Cloud residents will continue to be adversely impaired by excessive demands on local resources if primary resettlement continues.” He said that, while the federal government oversees resettlement, the city should have a role in it.
On Monday, all five speakers spoke against Johnson’s resolution, calling for community unity and support for immigrants. Goerger’s resolution stated that St. Cloud is welcoming to all residents. It also stated that about 225 refugees are expected to move to St. Cloud in 2018 — something the city’s infrastructure and workforce is set up to support.