Thursday, 16 January 2020

Federal Judge Blocks Trump Order That Lets States Refuse Refugees

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In the latest blow to President Trump’s immigration agenda, a federal judge in Maryland on Wednesday blocked the enforcement of a presidential executive order that gives state and local governments the ability to refuse the resettlement of refugees in their jurisdictions.

Peter Messitte, a senior judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, issued the preliminary injunction at the request of three national resettlement organizations: HIAS Inc., Church World Service Inc., and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

Back in September, President Trump issued an executive order declaring that the federal government would only place refugees where permission has been given by both the state and local government.

“State and local governments are best positioned to know the resources and capacities they may or may not have available to devote to sustainable resettlement, which maximizes the likelihood refugees placed in the area will become self-sufficient and free from long-term dependence on public assistance,” the order said.

The Trump administration is expected to appeal the injunction, arguing that the order is legal. Since the president has authority to determine how many refugees are admitted into the country, he also has authority to let states determine if they want them, the White House contends.



Judge Messitte, a Bill Clinton appointee, ruled against the administration on the grounds that “a potentially insuperable Constitutional barrier looms” and that the decision to exclude non-citizens is an exclusively federal power that cannot be delegated to states.

“Making the resettlement of refugees wholly contingent upon the consents of State or Local Governments, as the veto component of the proposed Order would have it, thus raises four-square the very serious matter of federal pre-emption under the Constitution,” Messitte wrote. “It is hard to see how the Order, if implemented, would not subvert the delicate federal-state structuring contemplated by the Refugee Act.”

Messitte also questioned how the executive order serves the “public interest”:

By giving States and Local Governments the power to veto where refugees may be resettled — in the face of clear statutory text and structure, purpose, Congressional intent, executive practice, judicial holdings, and Constitutional doctrine to the contrary — Order 13888 does not appear to serve the overall public interest.… Granting the preliminary inductive relief Plaintiffs seek does. Refugee resettlement activity should go forward as it developed for the almost 40 years before Executive Order 13888 was announced.

The judge also accused the administration of failing to consider “critical factors” like how to deal with secondary migration. That is, cases in which refugees move to non-consenting jurisdictions.

President Trump has stated that the country will take in just 18,000 refugees in fiscal year 2020, a dramatic reduction from the 110,000 cap set by the Obama administration in 2016.

Messitte’s preliminary injunction came just days after Texas became the first state to say “no” to more refugees.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that his state has been “one of the most welcoming states for refugees,” but asserted that Texas has done “more than its share” and “been left by Congress to deal with disproportionate migration issues resulting from a broken federal immigration system.”

Texas received more refugees than any other state in fiscal year 2018, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The states’ resettlement of 88,300 refugees since the 2002 fiscal year is second only California.

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia, condemned Abbott’s decision. 

Omar has been vocal on the issue since Beltrami County, Minnesota, voted to opt out of refugee resettlement out of public concerns over rising crime and strained budget resources.

Governors in 42 states, including several Republican governors, have said they will continue to allow refugees. A handful of Republican governors have not yet taken a stance on the issue — those from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Wyoming.

Another Trump immigration policy to be hit by an injunction is a rule to ban the issuance of green cards to immigrants who are likely to be reliant on welfare once in the country. The rule was halted back in October and a federal appeals court declined to halt the injunction earlier this month.

The Justice Department on Thursday filed an emergency request to the Supreme Court to have the injunction lifted. Oral arguments for that case are set to begin in March.

Image: bangkok via iStock / Getty Images Plus

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Luis Miguel is a marketer and writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on FacebookTwitterBitchute, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.

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