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Trump's Victory Means Uncertainty For Missoula's Refugee Resettlement Efforts

Hundreds gather in Missoula to rally in support of refugees, Tuesday March 1, 2016.
Josh Burnham
Hundreds gather in Missoula to rally in support of refugees, Tuesday March 1, 2016.

No one knows yet how Donald Trump’s election could affect Missoula’s budding refugee resettlement program.

Mary Poole, with the local non-profit Soft Landing Missoula, has been a leader in efforts to bring a refugee resettlement agency to Missoula.

"It’s really difficult to know what this means," says Poole.

That agency — the non-profit International Rescue Committee Missoula, has resettled six African families locally since August.

IRC Missoula’s executive director, Molly Short-Carr, declines to speculate on the program’s future, saying only that the group is discussing the path forward.

IRC intends to bring up to 150 more refugees to Missoula next year.

But President-elect Trump has said the U.S. will stop accepting refugees from terror-prone regions of the world.

Soft Landing’s Mary Poole says refugee resettlement advocates in Missoula must press forward, despite all the unknowns.

"We know we have families that are already here that need support and we’ll continue to give that," Poole says.

Missoula City Councilman Harlan Wells says he welcomes the newly settled families to Missoula and wishes them the best.

But Wells, who describes himself as the most conservative member of the Missoula City Council, questions the quality of America’s refugee vetting process. Wells hopes President-elect Trump will require that the vetting process become more secure.

"Let’s just hope if it goes through, that we don’t end up having any problems and there’s no security issues," Wells says.

Some of the 150 additional refugees IRC Missoula intends to bring to Missoula next year could come from Syria and Iraq. 

Refugee advocates say the vetting process is so thorough it can take up to three years.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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