Colorado Springs City Council Discusses Refugee Relocation

Mar 7, 2016

Colorado Springs City Council discussed a proposal at Monday's work session that seeks to formally oppose the relocation of refugees to the city unless the federal government can certify they pose no security threat.

Councilor Andy Pico presented the draft resolution [.pdf], opening his remarks by saying the intent is to ensure refugees are properly vetted, and to ensure the city is notified when refugees are relocated to the city.

"It does not seek to ban refugee relocation," said Pico.  "What does it do?  It requests that the state and federal governments who are involved in this program provide the city with notification when people come here, and it seeks to ensure that they are screened properly.  That's all this thing does."

The proposal came under fire from several council members, including Jill Gaebler, who asked that Pico reconsider the resolution, saying it makes the city look mean-spirited.

"Whether or not you believe this issue is trying to ban refugees, that is the perception in our community," said Gaebler.

Councilors say they've received hundreds of emails in response to the proposed resolution.  Council President Merv Bennett suggested the title of the document, which declares opposition, is not indicative of Pico's objective and should be redrafted. 

Bennett and several other councilors expressed support of the intent, including Don Knight, calling it due diligence against potential terrorist threats.

"We have to be diligent 24/7, 365," said Knight.  "They only have to get it right once to be successful."  

Pico said he's open to the input and willing to change some of the wording, but stands by the intent of the draft.  The proposed resolution is not currently on the calendar for any formal city council meetings.