The American people is a term too often broken into two large groups, and generalized from there.
We consider ourselves polarized.
A recent political exercise shows otherwise.
In September, President Trump’s administration gave all states and local governments 90 days to decide for themselves if they want to allow refugee resettlement within their borders.
The move accompanied a gutting of the program overall, cutting the numbers of refugees allowed in-country from 30,000 to 18,000 this year. This is a fraction of the 110,000 refugees allowed under former President Barack Obama’s last policy.
The decisions must be made this month so resettlement agencies like Bethany Christian Services, can secure funding for placements.
Many feared we’d fall into our entrenched camps, creating squabbles between localities and our states.
But this largely hasn’t happened. An impressive swath of the country’s governments have officially “consented” to allowing refugees into their communities. The ones that don’t — a county in Minnesota, some governors on the fence, a scattering of delayed decisions — are mostly outliers.
Every Grand Traverse County commissioner, a board that regularly breaks along party lines, voted to let Secretary of State Mike Pompeo know that refugees were welcome.
There was discussion and debate, of course. Concerns about numbers, length of stay, employment and social services were raised. Facts provided by Bethany Christian Services, which settles refugees here, refugee testimony and the commissioners’ personal experiences found common footing.
We like when our local government gets a say in federal policy as it relates to us. We also like when the facts and our own community experiences hold sway over party.
Sometimes our fractious pieces, in all their individual glory, add up to a whole.