Administrators Discuss Impact of Refugees On Stearns County
ST. CLOUD -- Stearns County Administrators says refugees coming into the county don't have a big impact on the county budget. Human Services Administrator Melissa Huberty was on the News @ Noon Show Monday.
In Stearns County, there's anywhere from 30,000 to 33,000 people who are on public assistance. The vast majority are people who are born and raised right here. Also, people are on public assistance for a short period of time.
Huberty says refugees that come into the United States are eligible for Refugee Cash Assistance, but that is a federal program and not administered by the county.
That is for a very short period of time and a very small amount of money. It's essentially just for those refugees in the community that meet the income criteria. Many refugees are employed and don't qualify because they make too much money.
Local organizations like the Workforce Center and the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation work closely with new residents in helping them find jobs.
Huberty says the county's budget is not being strained by the refugees arriving here.
No. That's the simplest answer. It's absolutely not happening. From a county standpoint, there's very few taxpayer dollars that go for anything remotely related to refugees. We have a small percentage of interpreter services.
Administrator Mike Williams says whether it's at the city level or the county level, there isn't a lot of local resources that go into the refugee population.
I was the city administrator for St. Cloud for 13 years and there was no impact on the city's budget or our programs and services, and it's nearly the same for the county.
Williams says Stearns County has had 34 new refugees over the past two years. That number does not include people who had refugee status in another county and then moved here later. The number of refugees that have come to Stearns County over the past 10 years is about 1,300.
Huberty says there is a lot of fear and myth about refugees, so it is important to get the facts out there.
Last fall President Trump issued an executive order requiring county governments to vote on whether they'll accept new refugees, but a federal judge approved a preliminary injunction on that order. Because of that injunction the Stearns County Board has elected to not take a vote on that issue.