Refugee Agencies Wading Through The Details Of Appellate Court’s Ruling
Friday, September 8, 2017
Credit: Pima County website
Resettlement agencies are awaiting clarification from the government agency that oversees the U.S. refugee resettlement program.
More refugees could be arriving in the U.S. after an appeals court ruling on President Donald Trump's travel ban, which had halted the program for 120 days. The 9th Circuit Court's judgment Thursday said an agreement with a resettlement agency is a valid relationship to allow entry despite the suspension, but the impact locally is up in the air.
Jewish Family Service of San Diego's Etleva Bejko said the ruling is good news, but agencies are still sorting out how it will affect arrivals to the region, especially after a series of legal challenges has caused interruptions to the process.
"Because of all the disruptions, a lot of factors that are going to impact this are the security checks that might have expired, the priorities that are given through families with bonafide relationships before, and now it has to be re-interpreted," said Bejko, the agency's director of Refugee and Immigration Services. "So because of that it will be hard to predict what the impact will be locally."
Bejko said national relief groups are awaiting direction from the U.S. State Department, which oversees resettlement.
San Diego County Republican Party Chairman Tony Krvaric said he was not pleased with the ruling.
"If the judges want to effect (sic) policy of who gets to come to America, they should run for elected office," Krvaric said via text message. "Sadly this circus won't end until the Supreme Court weights in and in the meantime, any consequences will be on the hands of these imperial judges."
Krvaric declined to clarify what he meant by "consequences."
The U.S. Department of Justice plans to appeal the latest ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Associated Press. The decision also expanded the types of familial relationships permitting a person from one of six countries to travel to the U.S. amid Trump's order.
Oral arguments before the high court are already scheduled next month in light of previous challenges to the travel ban. Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland previously struck down portions of the executive order, which the Trump Administration appealed.
David Schlesinger, an appellate litigator with Jacobs & Schlesinger LLP, said the issue may be "moot" when justices hear it next month. He said that's because the directive, which suspended refugee resettlement for 120 days and halted travel from six countries for 90 days to review security measures, may have lapsed.
"Meaning: have those periods expired and therefore essentially does the executive order no longer have any force?" he said.
Schlesinger also said the justices may question what changes, if any, the government has made to its vetting procedures.
"They might try to find out what the government has done. If the government hasn't done it, they might be curious as to why there hasn't been any action yet, given that they've had many months to develop those procedures," he said.
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