Statement of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants on
the Executive Order Requiring State Consent
for Refugee Resettlement
January 15, 2020
Today, in the case of HIAS, et. al. v. Trump, et. al., Judge Peter Messitte of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland issued his decision in favor of the plaintiffs, granting a preliminary injunction against the Administration’s Executive Order requiring state consent to resettle refugees.
The Executive Order, issued in September, gave the option to states and localities to veto refugee resettlement. So far, 42 governors—19 of whom are Republications—have consented to resettlement. Texas became the first state to opt out of the resettlement program, despite protests from around the state, including all 16 of Texas’ Catholic Bishops. The judge’s preliminary injunction today jeopardizes Texas Governor’s Greg Abbott’s decision to halt refugee resettlement in his state.
In his decision, Judge Messitte concluded that the three refugee agencies adequately demonstrated that Trump’s order is unlawful, arbitrary and capricious. Messitte granted a preliminary injunction to halt enforcement of the order.
“Giving states and local governments the power to consent to the resettlement of refugees — which is to say veto power to determine whether refugees will be received in their midst — flies in the face of clear congressional intent,” Messitte wrote. In his 31-page opinion, he ruled that the order gives 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 Congressional doctrine to the contrary.”
““Judge Messitte’s decision is the right one. The Refugee Act of 1980, a bi-partisan piece of legislation, establishes a uniform basis for providing humanitarian assistance to refugees. It reaffirms our historic commitment, as Americans, to welcoming those who have fled persecution. This is who we are as a nation. Our greatness is in our people,” says USCRI President and CEO Eskinder Negash.
Refugees have made and continue to make extraordinary contributions to the United States. Research shows that refugees, after a brief period of temporary public services, find employment, buy houses, start businesses and pay taxes. There is a net economic gain in their communities and refugees add diversity and vibrancy to the social marketplace.
USCRI believes that not only should this consent requirement be lifted, but that the refugee admissions ceiling should be restored to 95,000 refugees annually.