AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– Two days after the Aurora City Council approved the idea of continuing to welcome refugees to the city amid a Trump Administration executive order mandating it, a federal judge in Maryland has blocked the Trump Administration’s requirement. It came in a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by HIAS Inc, Church World Service Inc. and Lutheran World Services Inc against President Donald Trump and three cabinet secretaries.
The President issued the executive order last fall, saying resettlement agencies must get written consent from state and local officials in any jurisdiction where they want to resettle refugees after June. Aurora and several other Colorado communities including Centennial, Littleton and Arvada responded quickly to give that approval.
In a hearing on the request the judge indicated that the Administration’s move essentially changed an existing law on the resettlement of refugees. In the decision Judge Peter Messitte said the move by the Trump Administration, “flies in the face of clear Congressional intent.”
He indicated refugee resettlement should “Go forward as it developed for almost 40 years before Executive Order 13888 was announced.”
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran World Services, which is one of the organizations that assists refugees in Colorado, released a statement saying, “Judge Messitte’s ruling is a win for the rule of law and for all refugees and the communities that welcome them. We know the fight isn’t over, but we’re confident that the Constitution—and, as the last few months have proved, the country—are on our side.”
Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott acted under the Trump Administration requirement last Friday to block refugee resettlement, saying it was based in part, on Texas’ need to focus attention on those already in the state in need of assistance. The move drew a sharp rebuke by the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops.
Overall, The Trump Administration has reduced the number of people allowed to seek refuge from political persecution or violence in the United States to the lowest number since the program’s inception in 1980.