HIAS Files Amicus Brief Seeking Clarification on Refugee Ban

By Gabe Cahn, HIAS.org

HIAS Files Amicus Brief Seeking Clarification on Refugee Ban

People take part in a rally to protest the restrictive guidelines issued by the U.S. on who qualifies as a close familial relationship under the Supreme Court order on the Muslim and refugee ban at Union Square on June 29, 2017, in New York.


On June 26, the United States Supreme Court announced that it would hear the government’s appeal of the Fourth and Ninth U.S. Circuit Court decisions with regard to President Trump's March 6 Muslim and refugee ban executive orders. The Court also issued a partial stay of the injunctions preventing the orders from going into effect.

The Supreme Court’s narrow decision kept the lower courts’ injunctions in place for all individuals who can prove a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

Three days later on June 29, the U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security shared how their legal interpretation of the Supreme Court’s partial stay of the injunctions would impact refugee admissions and travelers from the six Muslim-majority countries identified in the executive order. For example, the State Department advised that a refugee’s ties to a U.S.-based resettlement agency would not necessarily qualify as a “bona fide relationship” with an entity in the United States.

HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield strongly objected to that interpretation, saying in a statement, “Refugees cannot simply come to the United States, they must first be invited by our government.”

That evening, lawyers working on the Hawaii v. Trump case filed an emergency motion in U.S. District Court to clarify the scope of the Supreme Court’s decision in light of the Trump Administration’s questionable guidance. They argued that the administration’s interpretation is overly narrow and unwarranted both for refugees and nationals of the six countries named in the executive order.

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