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HIAS Welcomes 4th Circuit Ruling Blocking Executive Order Letting States Discriminate Against Refugee Resettlement

SILVER SPRING, Md.  Today the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of co-plaintiffs HIAS, Church World Service, and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service in their suit against President Trump’s executive order allowing states to opt-out of refugee resettlement entirely. The court ruled that the order violates the Refugee Act of 1980 and unduly burdens refugee resettlement agencies like HIAS, who had been required to get permission from every city, town, and state in the country before they could be allowed to resettle refugees.

“The Trump administration’s Executive Order requiring consent from every jurisdiction in the country — which number in the thousands — was a blatant attempt to block refugee resettlement. There was no legitimate reason to do this other than to make life harder for refugees, who have already suffered enough and simply want to start their new lives in peace,” said Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS. “Today the court recognized and validated the U.S. refugee resettlement program, which has been working well for more than 40 years with the full support of administrations of both parties, and has helped millions of persecuted people find a home in our country.” 

HIAS sued the Trump administration in 2019 to block the executive order from taking effect. On Jan. 15, 2020 a federal district court judge in Maryland granted an injunction in the case, HIAS v. Trump, that halted the order. 

Prior to the injunction, the goal of the administration’s order — to allow states and localities to stop refugees from resettling in their areas — was soundly rejected, with the overwhelming majority of both Republican and Democratic governors and local officials across the country expressing a continuing commitment to welcoming refugees. 

The Trump administration can appeal the decision to the full circuit court or directly to the Supreme Court, but with less than two weeks left in the current administration it is unclear if it will do so. 

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