A Seattle federal judge partially blocked on Saturday, December 23, the latest restrictions put in place by President Donald Trump on the reception of refugees.
On October 24th, the Trump administration effectively banned the entry into the US of refugees from 11 countries for a 90-day period that expires at the end of January, to “examine the security context”. The countries concerned are Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Together, they account for more than 40% of US refugee admissions in the last three years.
Federal Judge James Robart ruled that the Trump administration had the right to review the security situation, but that it could not stop the processing of cases or the admission of refugees from these 11 countries during this time, as long as the refugees in question have a genuine, “good faith” connection with the United States.
As part of the new restrictions put in place, the Trump administration also stopped a family reunification program for refugees while new security control procedures were put in place. Judge Robart ordered the US government to resume the program.
Satisfaction of pro-refugee groups
Refugee advocacy groups welcomed Judge Robart’s decision. Lisa Nowlin, an ACLU lawyer, said she was happy for her clients “who have not yet had the opportunity to celebrate a single birthday for the youngest son in the family.”
The decision on the authorization of family reunification is the result of two trials that opened on Thursday. One of the lawsuits, Jewish Family Service vs. Trump, was submitted by HIAS, a Jewish advocacy group for immigration, on behalf of its partners, Silicon Valley Jewish Family Service of Seattle and Jewish Family Services. The second case is ACLU of WA vs. Trump.
“We are grateful families will be reunited, and refugees who have suffered so much will be able to make it to safety. As we celebrate this moment, we remember our ancestors who did not have anyone standing with them or for them,” said Rabbi Will Berkovitz, CEO of the Jewish Family Service in Seattle, in a statement.
The ACLU was representing a Somali national living in Washington State who is trying to bring his family to the United States.
The Justice Department, however, said that it disagrees with the judge’s decision and said “to be evaluating the next steps”. Robart, a judge appointed by former President George W. Bush already made news last February by temporarily suspending the first version of the Trump ban.
Judge Robart’s ruling this Saturday is the second judicial defeat of the Trump administration in two days. On Friday, an appeals court ruled that the travel ban against nationals of six Muslim countries should not be applied to people with a “credible good faith relationship with the United States.”