New York, NY, September 30, 2019 – Today, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation to compel the release of documents related to how last week’s Executive Order on Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement was crafted by the Trump Administration. The order would give state and local governments the authority to block refugee resettlement in their jurisdictions, which could disrupt resettlement across the country, harm refugee families, and prevent willing communities from welcoming them. It was released the same day that the Administration announced its intention to resettle the lowest number of refugees in the history of U.S. resettlement in the coming fiscal year.
To date, the Trump Administration has not released critical information about this new and unprecedented policy, which was foreshadowed by the 2017 Muslim Ban Executive Order, which mandated that “[s]tate and local jurisdictions be granted a role in the process of determining the placement or settlement in their jurisdictions” of refugees. IRAP filed its FOIA request more than two months ago seeking information about this anticipated policy. Despite the potentially dire consequences for refugee families who seek safety and the ability to be reunited in the United States, the government has done no more than acknowledge receipt of IRAP’s FOIA request.
“There is an urgent need to know more about this unprecedented policy,” said Melissa Keaney, Senior Litigation Staff Attorney for IRAP. “Through this litigation we hope to shed light on how the Trump Administration is abdicating its responsibility to administer the refugee resettlement program by providing states and localities with the ability to block resettlement, even when the desire to keep them out is based on nothing more than where they are from, the color of their skin, or how they pray.”
The complaint can be found here.