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March 01, 2017

ABA expresses concerns about Trump revised immigration order; federal courts declare order discriminatory, block enforcement

ABA President Linda A. Klein expressed the ABA’s concerns this month about a revised Trump administration executive order seeking to suspend immigration from six Muslim-majority countries, maintaining that the new order issued March 6 would continue to try to exclude immigrants and visitors from six countries based solely on their nationality without regard to whether they actually present a national security risk.

Enforcement of the revised order was blocked nationwide by U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson in Hawaii on March 15 just hours before it was scheduled to take effect that night at midnight. The order in Hawaii was followed the next morning by a temporary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang in Maryland. Both judges ruled that the executive order was intended to discriminate against Muslims by targeting immigrants from Iran, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Somalia.

The judges’ rulings echoed the same concerns expressed in February by U.S. District Court Judge James Robart, who issued a nationwide temporary restraining order against the president’s first executive order nationwide. The original executive order, which had been issued by the president Jan. 27, also included Iraq on the list of Muslim-majority countries from which immigrants and visitors would be barred, indefinitely barred Syrian refugees from entering the United States, suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, and reduced the number of refugees allowed into the United States this year from 110,000 to 50,000. That order, which went into effect immediately without notice or clear guidance, created confusion at airports around the country and internationally and prompted numerous lawsuits.

“The ABA opposes the use of nationality or religion to bar an otherwise eligible individual from entering the United States,” Klein said in her statement. She explained that the revised executive order, in addition to banning individuals from certain countries, also would continue the four-month suspension for refugee admissions and reduce the cap on the Refugee Admission Program for this year.

“While the order does not affect refugees whose travel to the United States had previously been scheduled by the State Department, it still would strand thousands of others who have already completed much of the refugee admission application process, which in many circumstances can take up to two years of careful vetting. The practical effect of these changes would be to drastically reduce the U.S. commitment to providing legal protection for refugees at a time of global crisis,” she said.

She also urged the administration, should the order move forward, to ensure that waivers and humanitarian protection procedures are robustly and consistently applied throughout the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

President Trump has vowed to fight the rulings against his executive order, maintaining that his actions are necessary to keep foreign terrorists out of the country. 


Back to the March 2017 Washington Letter