A federal judge today blocked the Trump administration’s executive order allowing state and local officials to opt out of accepting refugees.

In September, President Trump, announced that states and local governments could refuse to accept refugees into their communities, creating a potential roadblock for the federal refugee resettlement program. The program involves an extensive vetting process before religious and other good samaritan groups welcome the refugees and help them establish homes in the United States.


Immigration advocacy groups went to court, arguing that Trump’s order violated the Refugee Act of 1980, which established the refugee resettlement program.

U.S. District Court Judge Peter Messitte of Maryland today issued a preliminary injunction, temporarily halting Trump’s order. You can read his 31-page opinion here. Giving states and municipalities veto power over refugee resettlement, Masitte ruled, “flies in the face of clear Congressional intent” and runs contrary to “clear statutory text and structure, purpose Congressional intent, executive practice, judicial holdings and Congressional doctrine.”


Governor Hutchinson announced last month that Arkansas would not avail itself of the Trump option to refuse refugees. That didn’t sit well with fear-mongering legislators such as Republican senators Trent Garner, Terry Rice, Gary Stubblefield and Bob Ballinger. Hutchinson defended his move before a legislative committee on Monday; right-wing demagogues from his own party attacked the governor and bellowed that they didn’t recognize America anymore, etc.

Hutchinson was one of 42 governors from both parties who have stated that they will continue to accept refugees. The only governor who announced plans to use the now-halted waiver offered by the Trump administration was Republican Greg Abbott of Texas.


The Trump administration has already capped the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the U.S. this year to just 18,000, the lowest cap since the program was established in 1980.