International Refugee Assistance Project Sues Trump Administration Over Executive Order Blocking Refugee Resettlement

Syrian refugee Ahmad al Aboud and his family members walk to board their plane in Amman, Jordan in April 2016 bound for the United States. | (PHOTO: REUTERS/MUHAMMAD HAMED) | and his family members walk to board their plane in Amman, Jordan in April 2016 bound for the United States.

The International Refugee Assistance Project filed a lawsuit seeking answers on how President Donald Trump’s executive order giving states and localities the ability to block refugee resettlement was created as questions remain about how it’ll be implemented. 

IRAP, which provides legal aid for refugees and displaced people worldwide, including Christians, filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit Monday to compel the U.S. State Department to release critical information about the new order issued last week.

The order was issued on the same day the administration announced it would reduce the annual refugee resettlement ceiling to a historic low of 18,000. The legal complaint claims the order “gives state and local governments an unprecedented power” to refuse to accept refugees in their jurisdictions.

Such power, IRAP argues, was previously only reserved for the federal government.

Under the order, refugees can only be resettled in jurisdictions that consent to have refugees resettled there.

“Under this new policy, a governor or locality may block refugees from being resettled in their jurisdictions even if a community of people stands ready to welcome them,” the complaint reads, “even if family members have been awaiting their arrivals, even if resources and opportunities available make it the best place for those refugees to rebuild their lives, and even when the desire to keep them out is based on where they are from, the color of their skin, or how they pray.”

The executive order contends, however, that the policy ensures that communities are “eager and equipped to support their successful integration into American society and the labor force.”

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on the pending litigation.

IRAP claims that its Freedom of Information Act request, submitted more than two months ago for documents related to the anticipated policy, was “foreshadowed by the 2017 Executive Order imposing a [temporary] ban on refugees and travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries,” and reducing refugee resettlement that year to 50,000.

But to date, IRAP has only received an acknowledgment from the department that its request was received. IRAP hopes the federal court will compel the disclosure and release of “urgently needed records that this administration has unlawfully withheld from public scrutiny.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith

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