In September, the Trump administration issued an executive order that required refugee resettlement agencies to get written permission from the local jurisdiction before they could settle refugees there.
Now, a federal district court judge has temporarily blocked that order from going into effect.
The block will stay in effect while a case challenging the order is heard.
In his 31-page opinion issued on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte said that the executive order attempted to allow states and localities to veto the resettlement of refugees. Allowing this would be contrary to “clear statutory text and structure, purpose Congressional intent, executive practice, judicial holdings and Congressional doctrine to the contrary.”
The lawsuit challenging the order was brought by three groups: Church World Service, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and HIAS. They argue that the executive order violates the policy of the Refugee Act of 1980.
The judge agreed, finding that the Refugee Act intended to set up permanent, systematic procedures for resettling humanitarian refugees in the U.S. He ruled that the executive order appears to oppose the goal of the Refugee Act.
The White House called the ruling “preposterous” and said it was an example of “nationwide district court injunctions run amok.”
Texas refused refugees, other states still welcome them
The state of Texas announced that it would reject refugees under the executive order. So did a couple of local governments. However, an overwhelming majority of states and local governments responded to the executive order by reaffirming their commitment to welcoming refugees.
The executive order comes at a time when the number of refugees being allowed into the U.S. is at a historic low. This fiscal year, only 18,000 refugees are being allowed into the country, the lowest since the modern refugee program began in 1980.