Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has formally affirmed that the city will continue welcoming refugees through a federal program after a recent presidential order requiring written agreement.

In a Dec. 10 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Bottoms said Atlanta gives its consent to continue accepting international refugees via the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, a collaboration of the federal government and private agencies.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

An executive order from President Donald Trump in September required the program to get written consent from state and local governments before approving local refugee settlements. Bottoms’ letter notes adds that providing the written permission “is not an endorsement of the legality of the EO [executive order].”

“Refugees are resilient, hard-working people whose innovative skills have contributed greatly to our city,” Bottoms said in the letter. “They have opened businesses, revitalized neighborhoods and are productive members of our community. Multiple studies demonstrate that refugees are economic contributors and job creators. For these reasons and more, the city of Atlanta will continue to welcome refugees.”

In a Dec. 17 press release announcing the letter, Bottoms added, “America has a well-documented history of helping the downtrodden in their times of need, and to turn our backs on those who are suffering is to turn our backs on the highest ideals of freedom this nation.”

Trump has sparked controversy with policies restricting or halting refugee admissions.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.