Gov. Mike DeWine’s Christmas gift to Ohio residents was a letter to the U.S. Department of State inviting refugees to keep on coming in, including from countries with “high burdens” of tuberculosis.
DeWine sent a letter Dec. 24 to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo giving permission for refugees to be placed in or resettled in Ohio, The Plain Dealer reported.
“The State of Ohio has a long and successful history of welcoming and assimilating refugees from all corners of the globe,” DeWine wrote. “Ohio also has a well-developed support network to welcome and assimilate refugees, primarily lead by our faith-based communities.”
President Donald Trump in September enacted a policy to allow states, cities and counties the power to opt in or out of refugee resettlement, Breitbart reported. The intent was to stop resettlement groups from secretly dumping refugees in communities. Executives must send a letter to the administration to opt in.
DeWine is one of more than 30 governors who have agreed to accept more refugees under Trump’s plan for states to opt in. At least one other Republican governor — Bill Lee of Tennessee — has drawn intense criticism for that decision, The Tennessee Star reported.
Ohio already has been a national leader in accepting refugees.
IT was among the top states in the nation for accepting refugees in Fiscal Year 2019 — it took in 1,400, according to data by the Pew Research Center. The fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2019.
In just eight months of FY 2017 (October 2016-April 2017), Ohio took in 2,152 refugees, Pew Research Center said.
The Ohio Star on Dec. 30 reported that refugee resettlement in Ohio is up 22 percent under Gov. DeWine, including hundreds from countries with “high burdens” of tuberculosis.
Data provided by the Refugee Processing Center of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration for Jan. 14-Dec. 23, 2019 shows an influx to Ohio of 1,279 refugees, up from 1,045 refugees in Jan. 14-Dec. 23, 2018.
Also, there are 22 countries that since 1998 have been considered to be the TB “high burden” countries, according to TB Facts.
Ohio went from 149 reported TB cases in 2017 to 178 in 2018, a 19.5 percent jump, according to data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of TB incidences in the same period increased from 1.3 (per 100,000) to 1.5, a 19.2 percent change.
The CDC said that while cases of TB in Ohio in 2017 were below the national average rate of 14.4 cases per 100,000, that was not the case for foreign-born residents, who had an average of 20.1 cases per 100,000, placing them above the national average.
Despite that public health issue, DeWine is not the only Ohio official telling Trump to bring in the refugees.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther pitched in with several other mayors in voicing a willingness to accept refugees, The Ohio Star reported. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley was one of nearly 100 mayors around the nation who urged the president to bring the nation as many refugees as possible in order to increase diversity.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.