Background: Trump Administration’s Executive Orders

President Trump’s Re-Written Executive Order Targeting Refugee Resettlement

Source: Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Summary and Talking Points

On March 6, 2017, President Donald Trump signed a new Executive Order (EO), entitled: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. This EO revokes and replaces the previous executive order (EO 13769). Below is a brief summary of how this new executive order is the same and different from the previous executive order.

How is this version the same?

  • At a minimum, a 90-day ban of individuals from Syria, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen. The EO will go into effect at 12:01 AM, EST, on March 16, 2017.
  • The new EO no longer includes a blanket ban on citizens from Iraq. However, all travelers must have a valid travel document in order to travel to the United States.
  • At a minimum, a 120-day suspension of the entire refugee resettlement program with the clock re-starting on the day the new EO goes into effect.
  • A 64 percent decrease in the number of refugees resettled in the U.S. for Fiscal Year 2017 - from 110,000 in the original Presidential Determination to an amended 50,000.
  • Increased authority for states and local governments regarding the placement and resettlement of refugees.
  • A mandated review of the current vetting procedures for refugees and immigrants, likely resulting in additional screening procedures which could lengthen the already long and extreme vetting process currently in place for refugees.
  • The EO provides the possibility for case-by-case exceptions to the 120-day halt on the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) as long as the entry of the refugee will not pose a threat to national security and would be in the national interest. It also must be proven that the delay of entry during the halt would cause “undue hardship.”

How is this version different?

  • It eliminates the indefinite suspension for the arrival of Syrian refugees.
  • It removes Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens are banned from travelling to the U.S. for 90 days.
  • It eliminates the language specifically prioritizing refugees who are religious minorities facing religious persecution
  • It clarifies that individuals with the following status are exempt or not affected by this EO:
    • Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs; commonly referred to as “green card holders”); Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients who worked with the U.S. military in Iraq or Afghanistan;
    • Dual-nationals when traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country. Thus, a national of Syria, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, or Yemen AND another country not singled out for a ban in this EO has the ability to travel to the U.S. with a valid visa;
    • Individuals with a document that is valid on the effective date of the order or any date thereafter which permits travel to the U.S.;
    • Individuals already granted asylum or refugee status in the U.S. before the effective date of this order; or
    • Foreign nationals admitted to the U.S. after the effective date of the order.

President Trump’s Executive Order

  • On Friday, January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order titled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”
  • The Executive Order includes the following key actions:
  1. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) is being suspended for 120 days for all populations with a few exceptions. 
  2. It sets a new refugee resettlement priority requiring the United States to no longer prioritize the resettlement of the most vulnerable, but those who are fleeing religious persecution and are the religious minority in the country they are fleeing. 
  3. Syrian refugees have an indefinite ban on being resettled, until such time that the President determines that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP.
  4. The order further bans residents of seven countries, including green card holders, from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq and Sudan from visiting or entering the U.S. for 90 days. Other countries may be added to the list.
  5. It creates new screening procedures for refugees and other visa applicants in the U.S. and may require asylum recipients and others to undergo additional screening.
  6. Provides for a new procedure to allow states and localities to discriminate against refugees by deciding whether they can be placed in their state or communities.

Legal Steps Taken to Suspend Actions in the Executive Order

  • On Saturday, January 28, 2017, federal Judge Ann Donnelly of the US District Court in Brooklyn granted a request from the ACLU to halt deportations of those detained on entry to the U.S. following President Trump’s executive order. Judge Donnelly determined that the risk of injury to those detained by being returned to their home countries necessitated the decision. 
  • Additionally, on Sunday, January 29, 2017, federal Judge Allison Burroughs and Magistrate Judge Judith Dein in Boston imposed a seven-day restraining order against  President Trump’s executive order, clearing the way for lawful immigrants from the seven barred nations — Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Syria — to enter the U.S.
  • On Friday, February 3, 2017, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton refused to extend the restraining order in Boston that had halted the implementation of President Trump’s controversial immigration ban, stating that lawyers with the ACLU failed to demonstrate the need for an ongoing restraining order.
  • However, on that same day, U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle issued a nationwide ruling that temporarily blocked President Trump’s ban on travelers from the seven Muslim-majority countries. Judge Robart ruled that the states of Minnesota and Washington had standing to challenge Trump’s order and said the states showed their case was likely to succeed.
  • On Thursday, February 9, 2017 in San Francisco, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a unanimous decision of three federal appellate judges, declined to block U.S. District Judge Robart’s ruling that suspended President Trump’s ban on travelers from the seven predominantly Muslim nations, allowing previously barred travelers to continue coming to the U.S.
  • On February 13, 2017, Seattle federal district court issued a preliminary injunction on President Trump's immigration executive order, which temporarily banned most immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries and also shut down the refugee program for 120 days. The injunction, by Judge James Robart, effectively extends the temporary restraining order he issued earlier in February into an indefinite nationwide block of Trump's immigration order. Robart rejected calls from the Trump administration to postpone the district court case while the 9th Circuit considers a request from one of its judges for a rehearing of last week's decision, which denied a motion to lift the restraining order.
  • On September 27, 2017, the Trump administration set the refugee admissions goal for next fiscal year at 45,000 - the lowest goal in U.S. history. The U.S. refugee resettlement program is a life-saving public-private partnership that is a critical humanitarian and diplomacy tool. The average admissions goal from when The Refugee Act of 1980 passed up till today is 95,000, with an average of 80,000 refugees resettled each year in the U.S.