FAQs: LIRS Litigation on Trump Administration Executive Order | LIRS
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FAQs: LIRS Litigation on Trump Administration Executive Order

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What You Need to Know About our Lawsuit Challenging the Executive Order


On Thursday, November 21, 2019, HIAS, Church World Service (CWS), and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), represented by the International Refugee Assistance Project, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland challenging an Executive Order purporting to empower states and localities to veto refugee resettlement within their borders. 

The litigation challenges Executive Order 13,888 “Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement,” issued by the President on September 26, 2019 (“EO 13,888”), and its implementation by federal agencies. EO 13888 directs the Secretary of State and Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and implement a process by which refugees will be resettled only in jurisdictions in which both the state and the “locality” have consented to receive refugees. Consent of state and local governments is to be in writing and will be made public, and if the locality does not affirmatively provide such consent, refugee resettlement in that place would stop.


The plaintiffs filed a complaint bringing the lawsuit to challenge EO 13,888 and its implementation They will soon file a motion for preliminary injunction, asking the Court to provisionally block the enforcement and implementation of EO 13,888 because HIAS, CWS, and LIRS are likely to succeed in the lawsuit and allowing the EO to be enforced and implemented in the meantime would do irreparable damage.


HIAS, CWS, and LIRS contend that the defendants are exceeding their authority and violating (1) the Refugee Act, (2) the Administrative Procedure Act, and (3) the U.S. Constitution.


The plaintiffs are primarily asking the Court for the following:

  • An injunction to bar the U.S. government from implementing or enforcing any part of the EO.  
  • A declaration by the Court that the entire EO is unlawful and invalid.
  • A declaration by the Court that the Department of State’s conditioning of refugee resettlement on prior written consent from both the relevant state and local governments is unlawful and invalid.

Essentially, the plaintiffs want the resettlement process to continue as usual without the unlawful written consent condition.

LIRS, HIAS and CWS will file a motion for preliminary injunction. Defendants will have an opportunity to respond to Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction.  Then — most likely after an in-court hearing — the court will decide whether to stop enforcement and implementation of the EO while the case is pending. Ultimately, Plaintiffs will seek a permanent injunction that will prevent the government from enforcing and implementing the EO altogether

Oral arguments are scheduled to begin in Greenbelt, MD on January 8, 2020.

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