See my post yesterday immediately following the surprising announcement by the Supreme Court on the Trump ‘travel ban’ from six terror-producing countries and the ceiling/moratorium on refugee resettlement across all countries and ethnic groups.
This morning I thought I might find an article or two that sounded reasonably informed about what is going to happen in the coming days and weeks. I didn’t find anything (yet) that looks very useful. Everyone seems confused.
There is an LA Times story with a juicy nugget where they say 50,500 refugees (yikes!) are waiting in the wings from the six targeted ‘travel ban’ countries. And, a Buffalo News story is representative of the myriad stories from across the country where refugee contractors are scratching their heads about what it all means for them. Those that get mostly refugees with “family ties” believe they will be getting their full quotas of paying clients.
So, as much as I would like to give readers guidance on what is going to happen, I can’t. But, here are some thoughts I have in random order. Some are comments, others are questions.
- The issue of bona fide relationships is going to be a huge mess. Already the contractors and subcontractors are thinking that if they have some refugees on the way from any country, they, the contractor, will be a bona fide “entity” and therefore their refugees will get in.
- Apparently a 120-day MORATORIUM on refugee resettlement (90 days for those 6 countries is a separate part of the EO) will go into effect, except for those who can claim a relationship of some sort. If it begins on Thursday (as most are predicting), 120 days ends on or about October 26th which is 26 days in to FY18. It then makes me wonder what Donald Trump will do with his ‘determination’ for that fiscal year which by law he will present to Congress in September.
- After wandering in the weeds about numbers, will the Trump Administration have any will to reform the whole US Refugee Admissions Program? It is now or never!
- Even if the Supreme Court hears the case in October, it could be months later for a decision (well in to election year 2018).
- BTW, as several news articles yesterday pointed out, there was and probably still is, a huge amount of fraud in the Refugee Admissions Program as it relates to who is, and who isn’t, a family member. Long time readers may remember the discovery in 2008 that literally as many as 20,000 Somalis entered the US fraudulently as part of the P-3 Family Reunification program. The Dept. of State shut down the P-3 for parts of Africa for years. The Supreme Court has now further increased the incentive for fraudulent claims of family connections.
- The Supreme Court ruling is troubling to me, actually on many levels, but they suggest that refugees with family ties get priority, while perhaps more persecuted people are left behind. Heck, every Somali probably has a family tie to someone in the US (since way over 100,000 are here already), while a truly persecuted Syrian Christian may have no ties because so few Syrian Christians have been admitted to the US. How did the Supremes let themselves get into this quagmire?
- The Dept. of State, with the likes of Brian Hook working with Sec. of State Tillerson, will be making critical decisions about how choices will be made about who gets in here between now and October 26th. They will be forced to depend on career bureaucrats (because Trump has moved too slowly to get people loyal to him placed in agencies across Washington) who have long-time personal relationships with the contractors.
- Although, as I said yesterday, I’m glad the Supreme Court put to rest the issue of whether Trump had the authority to reduce the refugee CEILING that he inherited from Obama (from 110,000 to 50,000), I am extremely troubled by the Supreme Court writing refugee law. The Refugee Act of 1980 is very specific about what steps must be taken for a President to go above the CEILING. The steps involve the President consulting with Congress in the case of an emergency. The court here is saying they have now stepped in to allow an increase over 50,000 (for relatives!). What is Congress going to do—continue to hide on the subject of refugees—and give up their Constitutional power to the courts?
- Congress actually appropriated enough money for 75,000 refugees to be admitted by September 30th, so what happens to that money as the number surely won’t come in anywhere near the 75,000 level (how on earth did Tillerson/Hook get out on that limb back in May telling contractors 1,500 would be admitted every week?).
- Representatives of the nine federal contractors*** are in a tizzy (as I read many news stories this morning), some trying to put a positive spin on what the Court has done. I wondered if they wouldn’t have been better off just letting Trump’s EO go in to effect months ago and get the review over with. It would have been done by now and some normalcy returned. Instead we are all looking to many more months of chaos, confusion and lawsuits. So maybe we can say, that the contractors are responsible for those “vulnerable” refugees left in limbo now.
- On that point about being in a tizzy, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) is organizing a briefing call on Thursday so you can find out what they think of the decision and what they will do going forward.
From an e-mail:
To learn more about the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision for refugees and non-citizens, join HIAS for a briefing call on Thursday, June 27 at 4:30 pm EST. Click here to RSVP and receive a call-in number.
[Update! A reader has pointed out that Thursday is the 29th! So, I expect there will be an e-mail correction coming from HIAS—ed]
I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things, and if I find some great legal mind who can predict what is going to happen beginning on Thursday, I’ll send it your way. In the meantime, send story links that you think add to the discussion to the comments here at RRW.
***Federal contractors in a tizzy. Since the vast majority of their annual income is from the US Treasury based on the number of refugees admitted each year, their budgets have again gone to hell. Not that I am sympathetic about their financial mess, but this is why Congress has to get the middlemen contractors out of the refugee business!
- Church World Service (CWS)
- Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) (secular)
- Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
- Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
- International Rescue Committee (IRC) (secular)
- US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) (secular)
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS)
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
- World Relief Corporation (WR)