As events unfold relating to President Trump’s executive order issued last Friday, temporarily halting refugee admissions and indefinitely banning Syrian refugees from entering the United States, MFA remains on top of the situation and will keep you apprised of the latest updates. Following is a summary.
On Friday, February 3, a federal judge from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals placed a nationwide temporary restraining order against Trump's travel restrictions, a “stay”, permitting travel to resume and refugee processing to continue as it had before the executive order was issued.
The executive order issued on January 27 sharply restricted immigrant and refugee admission to the United States, including:
A 90 day ban on “immigrant and non-immigrant” entry for seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The suspension for 120 days of the United States Refugee Admission Program (USRAP)
Resumption would be granted only for nationals of those countries where proper vetting procedures were in place; and
Upon resumption, preference would be given to those making religiously-based persecution claims from minority religions in country of origin
Indefinite suspension of the Syrian refugee resettlement program
The ceiling for refugee admissions for fiscal year 2017 was lowered to 50,000 from 110,000
The Visa Interview Waiver Program was suspended
State and local governments were afforded more control of resettlement in their jurisdictions
The order prompted strong opposition and public demonstrations at airports throughout the country. On January 30, the Department of Homeland Security reported that 109 people were denied entry and another 173 were prevented from boarding flights to the U.S. Those numbers rose to approximately 900 in subsequent reports – not including many more who were detained.
Lawsuits were immediately filed in various federal courts, resulting in several stays on implementation of the restrictions in specific jurisdictions around the country. However, it was not until Friday evening that a federal court in Washington state issued the nationwide “stay” on most parts of the executive order, allowing travel and refugee processing to continue.
The Department of Justice then filed an emergency brief to the federal appeals court to reinstate President Trump’s travel ban, saying immediate action was needed to ensure the nation’s safety. However, on Sunday morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling to keep the lower court’s stay in place temporarily, until a further hearing could be scheduled. In the meantime, all affected government agencies appear to have resumed their processing of immigrants and refugees.
That hearing has just been scheduled for today, Tuesday, February 7 at 3:00pm PST, 6:00pm EST. If you’d like to listen to the oral arguments this afternoon, following is a link to the proceedings: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/content/view.php?pk_id=0000000860
Given the Administration’s stance and the fact that the further arguments before the court are pending, it is possible that the status of the President’s “ban” could continue to change. Accordingly, those who are now able to travel should consider doing so without delay. It should not be assumed that the stay on implementation of the Executive Order will remain in place.
MFA is keenly aware of the impact the executive order may have on members of its network and their families. Please let us know if you have been personally affected. We will share your stories in an effort to continue raising awareness of the personal harm that can be done by the continuation of this order, as well as the threat it poses to national security and to the nation’s economy.
As the nation’s leading interfaith response to the Syrian refugee crisis with 80 participating organizations, MFA enlists the moral authority of religious and civil society leaders to ameliorate the suffering of Syria's war victims. At the forefront of MFA’s public awareness activities is countering the misinformation and misconceptions underlying the three great fears that impede humane and sensible public policy: economic impact, terrorism, and Islamophobia. Efforts to provide facts that debunk those myths have never been more important or urgent as we strive to overcome these deterrents to sound U.S. admissions and resettlement efforts.