JFS & HIAS Leaders Discuss New Lawsuit Against Refugee Ban 3.0

By Gabe Cahn, HIAS.org

“We’re talking about fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children, who are waiting to join their families,” said Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley Executive Director Mindy Berkowitz, in an interview with KPIX-TV, the local CBS affiliate in the Bay Area.

“The refugees that we are seeking to protect are good people.”

Berkowitz spoke to the station on Monday, November 13, just hours after JFS Silicon Valley and Jewish Family Service of Seattle—two of HIAS’ longstanding resettlement partners—joined together as organizational plaintiffs in a new lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s third attempt at a refugee ban.

HIAS is serving as co-counsel in the suit.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, the groups coordinated with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) at the Urban Justice Centerthe National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and corporate attorneys from firms such as Perkins Coie, to seek a nationwide block against the 90 day refugee ban as well as the indefinite pause on the “follow-to-join” program, which reunites spouses and children with refugees already in the United States.

"The president is making every effort to implement a campaign promise that's un-American and unconstitutional," HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield told the Associated Press.

"The only way to stop him is through the courts."

In Seattle, Rabbi Will Berkovitz, CEO of Jewish Family Service of Seattle, spoke with KUOW, the local NPR affiliate.

“People are dying who were given permission to come into this country,” he said. “It’s tragic.”

“The agenda that’s really thinly veiled here is the dismantlement of the refugee resettlement program as a whole,” Berkovitz added. 

The Jewish newspaper, J. Weekly, noted that the case is arguing that new refugee restrictions "would block numerous refugees from seeking resettlement through the United States Refugee Admissions Program."
The article states that "approximately 80 percent of all Muslim refugees who resettled in the United States in the past two years have come from nine of the 11 blocked countries."

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