MFA Welcomes Ruling by Ninth Circuit on the Executive Order


In a unanimous decision yesterday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court’s injunction of selected sections of the Administration’s second Executive Order, issued March 6, 2017, which would have barred the resettlement of refugees for 120 days, banned the entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, and reduced the overall number of refugee admissions for this fiscal year from 110,000 to 50,000. This is the second appeals court decision in less than a month to rule against the Administration with respect to the Executive Order. In May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld an injunction against the travel ban citing the First Amendment’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of religion (click here to read MFA’s coverage). The Administration has appealed that decision to the United States Supreme Court. By contrast, yesterday’s Ninth Circuit decision is based on likely violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The Ninth Circuit declared that “immigration, even for the President, is not a one-person show,” and the President’s authority is limited by both the Constitution and statute. As the court noted, the Executive Order did not “provide any link between an individual’s nationality and their propensity to commit terrorism or their inherent dangerousness.” The Court declared: “In suspending the entry of more than 180 million nationals from six countries, halting the entry of all refugees, and reducing the refugee admissions cap for the 2017 fiscal year, the President did not meet the essential precondition to exercising his delegated authority: The President must make a sufficient finding that the entry of these classes of people would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States.’” The President likely violated not only this provision of the INA but also its prohibition against nationality-based discrimination and its prescription for setting the annual cap on the admission of refugees. The Ninth Circuit did vacate portions of the lower court’s injunction, allowing instead that the government could carry out an internal review of the refugee vetting and admission procedures while the litigation was pending. MFA is supportive of this portion of the ruling, as well as those that lifted the travel ban, the U.S. Refugee Admission Program suspension, and the refugee cap reduction. MFA and its Participating Organizations have been “friends of the court” or litigants in various challenges to the Executive Orders.

About MFA:

​​The Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA), a project of the Tides Center, is a coalition of more than 80 faith-based ​​and secular organizations. Its mission is to mobilize global support to alleviate the Syrian humanitarian crisis, heighten awareness of the growing dangers of not responding adequately, and advance future stability in the region. MFA conducts crisis-related briefings in the U.S. and abroad, facilitates relationships between complementary partner organizations working to help Syrian war victims, suggests improvements to law and policy, and nurtures transformative people-to-people diplomacy in the region.


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