Greenbelt, MD –This morning the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland heard arguments in the case filed by CWS, HIAS and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services challenging the Trump Administration’s Executive Order allowing state and local officials to stop refugees from being resettled in their jurisdictions. CWS Senior Vice President for the Immigration and Refugee Program Erol Kekic issued the following statement:
“The refugee resettlement program was built by communities of faith in the aftermath of World War II, and since that time we have partnered with federal, state and local governments to put newly arriving refugees on the path towards full integration into their communities. This work continues through already regularly scheduled coordination meetings with local actors. This new executive order adds bureaucratic burden, and threatens the survival of this successful program while allowing the political whims of localities to strip communities of faith who are willing and able to welcome refugees from living out their calling to do so.
“It is clear the administration seeks to dismantle the refugee resettlement program at the cost of refugee families who now may be forced to choose between access to critical services and moving to be near family and community. We hope the judge and the court will issue the preliminary injunction and block this cruel and illegal order from moving forward.”
Executive order 13888 was signed on September 26, 2019, and for the first time ever, requires resettlement agencies to obtain written consent from all localities and states in which they plan to resettle refugees. The court will consider whether to grant a preliminary injunction prior to the January 21 deadline resettlement agencies have received for submission of their proposals to operate the resettlement program in Fiscal Year 2020. If the order is allowed to move forward, it could prevent refugees who have waited years from being reunited with their U.S.-based families, and communities from welcoming refugees, even if they have long-standing and successful resettlement programs.
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 refugee and immigrant work at GreaterAs1.org.