March 16, 2017

Statement of ABA President re: President’s Revised Executive Order

Washington, March 16, 2017 - In the United States, we ensure our national security within the framework of the Constitution and the values of freedom and liberty that define us as a nation. It is in this context that the American Bar Association has concerns about the president’s revised executive order titled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

The revised order, which had been scheduled to take effect today, has been temporarily blocked by judges in two federal courts and faces challenges in multiple other courts. Like the previous executive order issued in January, the revised order would continue to exclude immigrants and visitors from six countries based solely on their nationality, without regard to whether they actually present a national security risk. The ABA opposes the use of nationality or religion to bar an otherwise eligible individual from entering the United States.


The order also would continue the four-month suspension of all refugee admissions and reduce the cap on the Refugee Admissions Program for this year. While the order does not affect refugees whose travel to the U.S. had previously been scheduled by the State Department, it still would strand thousands of others who have already completed much of the refugee admissions 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.


The revised order contains provisions for waivers to be decided on a case-by-case basis and explicitly states that it should not be construed to limit the ability of an individual to seek asylum. If the order moves forward, we urge the administration to ensure that these waivers and humanitarian protection procedures are robustly and consistently applied throughout the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.  


The United States must not retreat from its role as a world leader grounded in the Constitution’s equal protection and due process guarantees.  It is by adhering to these principles that we most effectively demonstrate our leadership at home and abroad. 


With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.