The first two years of the Trump presidency have brought about a dramatic decline in the admission of resettled refugees. The United States resettled 92,000 refugees in 2016, the last year in which the annual resettlement ceiling was set by the Obama administration. By contrast, 33,000 refugees were resettled in 2017, and as of September 2018 only about 20,000 refugees have resettled in the US. It has been reported that the resettlement ceiling for 2019, which is to be set shortly, could be as low as 25,000 admissions. Read More
As families continue to endure separation after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, a less visible group of refugees has been abandoned by the Trump Administration with little recourse and dimming hope. In early 2018, approximately 100 Iranian refugees were denied resettlement to the U.S., stranding them in Vienna, Austria, where they had been awaiting final approvals through the U.S. Resettlement Program for over a year. Their denial was made “as a matter of discretion.” They have exhausted their savings and now have no clear path forward. President Trump’s policies have made these refugees’ already precarious lives even more so.
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.
Here's a thoughtful take from Marty Lederman on the Supreme Court's decision today on the Trump Executive Orders. We will have a post soon on the implications of the decision for 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.