Judge temporarily blocks Trump order allowing state, local governments to turn away refugees

In September 2019, President Donald Trump issued an executive order allowing state and local governments to refuse to resettle refugees in their jurisdictions. But like most other measures Trump has taken since ascending to the White House, the left is fighting this move tooth and nail.

A federal judge issued a temporary nationwide injunction on Wednesday blocking the president’s order from being enforced. According to Fox News, the move marks just “the latest judicial hurdle for the [Trump] administration’s immigration policies.”

The court makes its ruling

The decision comes by way of U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte, a Maryland-based adjudicator nominated by former President Bill Clinton. According to Fox, Messitte sided with the plaintiffs — three faith-based, private resettlement agencies: HIAS Inc., Church World Service Inc., and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service — to block state and local governments from being able to opt out of receiving refugees if they are unable or unwilling to accept them.

The White House has said that the law governing the resettlement of refugees, which delegates all authority over the matter to the executive branch, already calls for the federal government to consult closely with state and local governments in determining where to place refugees for resettlement; Trump’s order merely heightened the measure by “giving states a de facto veto” power, according to Fox.

The order read in part:

State and local governments are best positioned to know the resources and capacities they may or may not have available to devote to sustainable resettlement, which maximizes the likelihood refugees placed in the area will become self-sufficient and free from long-term dependence on public assistance.

But the federal judge apparently disagreed. In his ruling, Messitte suggested that state and local governments should have no say in the matter, since immigration concerns fall under the authority of the federal government.

“Making the resettlement of refugees wholly contingent upon the consents of State or Local Governments, as the veto component of the proposed Order would have it, thus raises four-square the very serious matter of federal pre-emption under the Constitution,” the judge wrote, according to Fox. “It is hard to see how the Order, if implemented, would not subvert the delicate federal-state structuring contemplated by the Refugee Act.”

With that, Messitte resolved that the plaintiffs were likely to win their case, and granted an injunction blocking the measure from being enforced by the Trump administration in the meantime.

The White House responds

For its part, the White House responded to Messitte’s ruling by slamming the judge for putting his own beliefs ahead “of the laws of the United States.”

“Another lawless district court has asserted its own preferred immigration policy in place of the laws of the United States — and, in so doing, robbed millions of American citizens of their voice and their say in a vital issue directly affecting their communities,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

She went on: “This is a preposterous ruling, one more example of nationwide district court injunctions run amok.”

According to Grisham, the White House is now “expeditiously reviewing all options to protect our communities and preserve the integrity of the refugee resettlement process.”

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