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Hackel clarifies letters sent regarding refugee settlement

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published January 10, 2020

 Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel recently sent a couple letters regarding a federal request for consent to initial refugee settlement in Macomb County. Hackel believes a “social media scam” attacking him followed, perpetrated by “political personalities.”

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel recently sent a couple letters regarding a federal request for consent to initial refugee settlement in Macomb County. Hackel believes a “social media scam” attacking him followed, perpetrated by “political personalities.”

Photo by Deb Jacques

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MACOMB COUNTY — A federal request appears to have caused some confusion, and the county executive is calling it a social media scam.

The case began Dec. 12, when Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Hackel says the letter was in response to a federal request for consent to initial refugee settlement in Macomb County in accordance with federal acts on involvement in refugee settlement.

A federal executive order issued in September requires state and local governments to indicate their willingness to continue receiving legal immigrants through a strictly monitored federal resettlement program.

The letter continues that the county “enthusiastically embrace(s) with open arms all those who seek a safe haven where they may live and flourish.”

It ends with Hackel consenting to initial refugee resettlement in Macomb County.

Once that letter was released, Hackel said a “social media scam” followed and he had to respond.

Hackel wouldn’t name who he thinks is behind the “scam” but indicated to C & G Newspapers that it was some “political personalities hiding behind social media that did this.”

“It’s asinine to think that Donald Trump, the governor or myself would say, ‘Let’s harbor illegal immigrants into the county,’” Hackel said.

Hackel said Macomb County has always accepted people who are legally vetted through the federal government.

“Somebody decided to take that as if it were an agreement to accept illegal aliens, and that’s the problem,” he said. “It was a social media scam.”

Hackel indicated that he was shocked that folks would believe an obscure social media post alleging that he agreed with Trump, or anyone else, on harboring fugitives or illegal aliens.  

He acknowledged there are illegal immigrants in Macomb County, which becomes a law enforcement matter.     

Hackel followed up with a Jan. 3 letter to chief elected officials of Macomb County communities.

“I sent that letter to make sure it was crystal clear there was nothing that Donald Trump, the governor or myself said about illegal immigrants,” Hackel said. “It had nothing to do with illegal immigrants.”

Federal Executive Order 13888 requires state and local governments to issue a written statement of consent in order to receive international refugees under the State Department’s reception and placement program.   

The executive order, signed by President Donald Trump Sept. 26, reads in part that the federal government consults with state and local governments “not only to identify the best environments for refugees, but also to be respectful of those communities that may not be able to accommodate refugee resettlement.”

Hackel cited that 1 in 9 people living in Macomb County is foreign-born.

He sent another letter to Pompeo Jan. 6.

“Even though my office is fully aware that the immigrants served by this program are legally admitted to our country and have been thoroughly screened by the Department of Homeland Security, certain political interests are attempting to use my letter to frighten county residents into believing that the Trump administration is using this program to place illegal immigrants into our local communities,” Hackel wrote.

Hackel asked if Pompeo could provide him with a letter or other official statement to reassure county residents that the program is only intended to serve immigrants who have been legally admitted to the U.S.

Discussion regarding refugee resettlement is on the agenda for the Jan. 15 Macomb County Board of Commissioners Government Oversight Committee meeting.

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