In a statement from the White House Wednesday evening, Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham called this ruling “preposterous” and yet another example of a lawless district court asserting its own immigration policy in front of standing US law. Furthermore, she says this ruling “robbed” millions of Americans from having a direct say in something that directly affects their communities.
“President Trump rightly and justly recognized that your communities are unique, and while some cities have the resources to adequately support refugees and help them be successful, not all communities can sustain the substantial and costly burden,” Grisham said. “Knowing that, the Trump Administration fulfilled a key promise by giving States and localities a seat at the table in deciding whether or not refugees will be placed in your communities.”
The White House is weighing over all of its options on how to “preserve the integrity of the refugee resettlement process,” according to Grisham.
A Clinton-appointed federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on Wednesday halting President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13888 which allowed state and local governments to decide if they want refugee resettlement within their communities.
“By giving States and Local Governments the power to veto where refugees may be resettled — in the face of clear statutory text and structure, purpose, Congressional intent, executive practice, judicial holdings, and Constitutional doctrine to the contrary — Order 13888 does not appear to serve the overall public interest,” Judge Peter J. Messitte of the Maryland District Court wrote in his opinion.
This is not the first time Judge Messitte has ruled against Trump. In 2018, he denied the president’s request to dismiss a lawsuit that alleged he violated the emoluments clauses of the U.S. Constitution. In 2019, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vigorously overruled that decision.
This ruling is a seen as a temporary win for pro-immigration rights advocacy groups that brought this lawsuit against the president in November.
“Lest there be any doubt, giving States and Local Governments the power to consent to the resettlement of refugees — which is to say veto power to determine whether refugees will be received in their midst — flies in the face of clear Congressional intent, as expressed in the legislative history of the statute,” Judge Messitte asserted in his opinion.
However, according to the Refugee Act of 1980, state and local governments are legally allowed to have a say in refugee resettlement.
“The Director, together with the Coordinator, shall consult regularly with State and local governments and private nonprofit voluntary agencies concerning the sponsorship process and the intended distribution of refugees among the States and localities,” Section 412 (a) 2 of the Refugee Act of 1980 on local consultation states.
For the 2020 fiscal year, the Trump administration slashed the number of refugees America will accept down to 18,000, down from the Obama administration high of 90,000 in FY 2016.
Last month, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee decided to say yes to more refugee resettlement in the state in FY 2020 without consulting members of the Tennessee General Assembly. In 2016 the Tennessee General Assembly sued the federal government to stop the federal refugee resettlement program in the state on Tenth Amendment grounds.
That lawsuit is currently pending in the federal courts.
“The court’s ruling is no surprise, but all appeals need to conclude to see where this all shakes out,” an attorney family with the federal refugee resettlement program told The Tennessee Star.
“The DOJ’s brief accurately explains that no functional or legal veto was given to state or local governments — only a process by which to make their preference known, which is the whole point of consultation as included in the Refugee Act,” the attorney continued.
“Nothing changes in Tennessee since the governor signaled his desire and intent to have refugee resettlement continue in the state. His position, however, regardless of the executive order, does put a ding on our lawsuit,” the attorney concluded.
Governor Lee’s decision to say yes to more refugees has been very unpopular in Tennessee, as The Star has reported.
Numerous additional counties are currently considering such resolutions.
“I am disappointed, but not surprised. This is Clinton era judge attempting to subvert state autonomy,” Terri Nicholson, the former Wilson County Republican Party chairman who has led the effort in Wilson County to secure a “no to refugees” vote from the Wilson County Commission, told The Star.
“It is for this very reason that counties across the state of Tennessee need to continue on with making it clear that they do not consent to refuge resettlement in their respective counties,” Nicholson added.
Gov. Mike DeWine has also said yes to more refugees in Ohio, sparking grassroots push back in that state at the county level as well, as The Ohio Star reported on Wednesday.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said no to more refugees in the Lone Star State.
Read Judge Messitte’s full decision here:
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