The Supreme Court issued an order yesterday regarding President Trump’s revised Refugee Executive Order (EO) that provided comfort to both the Administration and Hawaii, which has challenged the EO. The Court left in place the portion of Hawaii U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson’s injunction barring application of the EO to foreign nationals abroad with U.S. relatives such as grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
The State Department has issued guidance regarding the admission of refugees following the Supreme Court's decision in the Trump Executive Order cases. The guidance includes the narrow interpretation of "bona fide relationship with a person" adopted for the visa ban provision (fiancés are in; grandparents are out).
The commentary on the Supreme Court’s decision on the Trump Executive Orders has largely focused on the part of the Orders that imposed the travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries. Less noticed has been the paragraphs at the end of the decision that discuss the Orders’ suspension of the refugee program.
President Trump's tweets this morning are truly remarkable and must be giving fits to Department of Justice attorneys--not to mention his Press Secretary and Cabinet Secretaries who have repeatedly asserted that the Executive Orders do not constitute a "ban."
Two items worth noting. First, the State Department has again begun processing for refugee admissions, despite President Trump's Executive Order putting the program on hold and capping admissions for the current fiscal year at 50,000. Second, the Federal Court of Appeals for Fourth Circuit issued a scathing opinion affirming (nearly all parts of) a lower court's preliminary injunction against the revised Trump Order.
A federal district court in Virginia has now ruled in favor of the revised Trump Executive Order banning visas to persons from six predominantly Muslim countries. The court held that earlier Trump statements did not "fatally infect" the second version of the Order. Irrespective of this opinion, the nation-wide injunctions issued by two other district courts continue in force.
Here is a link to the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals not to review the decision of a panel of the Court issued February 9th, which rejected a challenge to the decision of the (Washington State) District Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the first Executive Order.
As Alex Aleinikoff stated in this forum recently, there will be much to report about Donald Trump’s Executive Orders relating to immigration enforcement and refugees in coming months. Given that the President recently issued an amended immigration order on 6 March, it is timely to reflect not only upon the legality of the order itself, but also upon the broader question of the role of the bureaucracy in carrying out any new order. As readers will know, President Trump’s executive immigration order issued in January attracted protest and litigation. In States of Washington and Minnesota v. Trump the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington granted a temporary injunction against the operation of the order, and the 9th Circuit refused to stay that injunction. Although the President has now rescinded that order, litigation on this matter looks set to continue with the Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) indicating that it will challenge the revised order in the courts.
Donald Trump’s revised Executive Order imposing a visa ban and reducing the U.S. refugee resettlement program can be found here. I found this commentary by Amy Davidson (The New Yorker) particularly insightful. The Order was (re)written in an attempt to withstand legal challenges. Thus, it includes paragraphs offering a security rationale for the (now) six countries it includes in the visa ban (Iraq is off the list); it exempts from the ban all persons with existing valid visas to enter the U.S. as well as green card holders, already approved refugees and other categories; it deletes the provision that gave special treatment for religious minorities seeking entry as refugees; and—to avoid a repeat of the havoc at airports—it doesn’t go into effect for 10 days.