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Statement on Executive Order Allowing States to Ban Refugees

Silver Spring, Md.--Yesterday President Trump signed an executive order that, for the first time, gives states and municipalities the authority to deny the resettlement of refugees in their communities. 

In response HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield said: “This order is in effect a state-by-state, city-by-city refugee ban, and it’s un-American and wrong. Is this the kind of America we want to live in? Where local towns can put up signs that say ‘No Refugees Allowed’ and the federal government will back that? Welcoming refugees is what we do as Americans, as Jews, as HIAS.”

Hetfield continued: “This new ban is not only an abdication of federal authority, but also flies in the face of the American and Jewish values that guide us and our long history of helping refugees start their lives anew in the United States. We at HIAS won’t stand for it.”

The order is the administration’s latest in a series of attempts to dismantle the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), which was established by Congress in 1980 with overwhelming bipartisan support. It comes after the issuance of multiple refugee bans and yesterday’s dramatic proposal to slash refugee admissions for the coming year to just 18,000, a historic low.

Regular dialogues between resettlement agencies and state and local officials already exist as a mandated part of the USRAP. States and local jurisdictions do not have the legal authority to set immigration law and policy; U.S immigration law falls under Congressional authority. 

HIAS recently helped more than 390 state and local government officials to deliver a bipartisan letter urging the administration to restore the refugee resettlement program and welcome 95,000 refugees next year.

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