CWS Outraged by Trump Administration Proposal to Allow State and Local Governments to Discriminate Against Refugees and Halt Refugee Resettlement

August 21, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 22, 2019 | 202-750-0960

CWS Outraged by Trump Administration Proposal to Allow State and Local Governments to Discriminate Against Refugees and Halt Refugee Resettlement

Reports illustrate further attempts to ban refugees from U.S. communities

Washington, D.C. – Today, reports surfaced that the Trump administration is weighing a new discriminatory proposal that would allow states and localities to stop refugees from being resettled in their communities. Since taking office, the Trump administration has already reduced refugee admissions by 75% and some officials have proposed ending refugee resettlement altogether. This proposal is another attempt to dismantle the refugee resettlement program, and is an affront to both the countless American communities that have welcomed refugees and continue to support refugee resettlement, as well as to the former refugees who are valuable members of their cities and towns.

“This proposal to allow state and local officials to summarily veto refugee resettlement shocks the conscience and would be a clear constitutional and legal violation,” said CWS President and CEO, Rev. John L. McCullough. “All people have the right to freedom of movement, and no law or executive order can prevent a refugee from residing in a certain community. Refugees are approved for resettlement by the federal government. Telling someone where they can live based on their immigration status would be a clear violation of U.S. law. The courts have already ruled against similarly discriminatory proposals, such as in a case wherein then-Governor Pence attempted to block Syrian refugees from resettling in Indiana.

“This proposal would improperly permit state and local governments to dictate federal refugee policy, leading to a chaotic and confusing patchwork of immigration and refugee policies across the country. It is equally unclear what vague standard would be used to block refugee resettlement, subjecting refugees to the vicissitudes of the political climate.

“Volunteers, congregations, and state and local officials across the United States have welcomed and continue to welcome refugees with open arms. Every community that resettles refugees carries out regular community consultations. But by allowing state or local officials to veto refugee resettlement in their community, this proposal would embolden racist officials to deprive refugees of their rights under U.S. law. This proposal is a slippery slope that takes our country backward. The ugly history of institutionalized segregation comes to mind.

“This proposal would also hinder religious organizations from living out our faithful call to welcome the stranger. ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me’ (Matthew 25:35). Faith communities in every corner of this country stand ready to welcome refugees. CWS calls on the adminstration to abandon this proposal that would sow discrimination and division, and urges Congress to hold the administration accountable to returning refugee resettlement to historic norms by setting a refugee admissions goal of 95,000 in FY 2020.”

Since 1946, Church World Service has supported refugees, immigrants and other displaced individuals, in addition to providing sustainable relief and development solutions to communities that wrestle with hunger and poverty. Learn more about our work and join our global homebase for refugee solidarity at