A U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit panel has unanimously upheld a federal judge’s ruling last year that stopped impeached president Donald Trump’s executive order allowing states to block refugees from being resettled in their communities. The panel “said the administration’s policy undermines the national resettlement program created four decades ago by Congress,” The Washington Post reported.
Texas had been the lone state to support Trump’s order when the federal judge ruled against the policy a year ago. Even if refugee advocates who sued had lost, the decree would likely be on its last legs right now anyway: President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to raise refugee admissions to the U.S. from a historic low of 15,000 set by the Trump administration to 125,000 under his administration.
Biden reaffirmed his campaign commitment to raising admissions on World Refugee Day this past June, saying that “Donald Trump has made clear that he does not believe our country should be a place of refuge.” The outgoing administration has not only taken a sledgehammer to the nation’s refugee resettlement system, it has tauntingly violated the law over and over again doing it.
Trump continued that tradition by issuing his order giving states permission to join in on his anti-refugee fearmongering and block families from communities. Litigants HIAS, Church World Service, and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service said in suing that “[t]he order could prevent refugees who have waited years and passed all vetting from being reunited with their U.S.-based families.”
“Communities could also be stopped from welcoming refugees,” the groups continued, “even if they have long-standing and successful resettlement programs.” The groups celebrated their ongoing court victory this month. “Especially right now, at this moment in history, it is really affirming and validating to see the court affirm the importance of the program,” HIAS Senior Vice President Melanie Nezer told the Post.
But she also stressed that because the Trump administration’s decimation of the refugee program also resulted in many refugee resettlement office closures, “[i]t will take a lot of work to rebuild a system that the Trump administration has broken down over the last four years.”