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HIAS Welcomes U.S. District Court Ruling on Refugee Ban

SILVER SPRING, Md.—On Thursday, July 13, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson issued an important ruling in Hawaii halting the implementation of portions of the Trump administration’s executive order banning refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries.

As a result of this ruling, refugees with assurances from U.S.-based resettlement agencies are now officially considered to have “bona fide” relationships with a U.S. entity, as defined by the Supreme Court. The Trump administration had previously interpreted the Supreme Court order to mean that refugees with such ties would not be permitted entry on that basis alone.

In his decision, Judge Watson wrote that “an assurance from a United States resettlement agency, in fact, meets each of the Supreme Court’s touchstones,” and that “bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that.”

Additionally, the Court expanded the administration's overly narrow interpretation of which close family ties would qualify to be exempted from the refugee ban, which had originally excluded even grandparents and grandchildren.

HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield said, “This is a common-sense ruling which correctly interprets what the Supreme Court explicitly wrote. Critically, thousands of refugees escaping precarious and dangerous situations should now have the chance to find the safety promised to them in this country.”

On Monday, July 10, HIAS, together with International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), filed an amicus brief in support of the State of Hawaii’s efforts to restrict the implementation of the refugee ban, which was cited in Judge Watson’s ruling. Additionally, Hetfield’s supplemental declaration that was filed as part of the brief was referenced several times in the decision.

Added Hetfield, “HIAS and our supporters in the American Jewish community fully expect this administration to comply with Judge Watson’s ruling, but the fight for this country to uphold its founding values is ongoing. We know that in the coming weeks and months, our mission to protect and welcome refugees and asylum seekers will only become more important.”  

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