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Home / Press Release / Ninth Circuit Rejects Trump Administration’s Executive Order Barring Refugees
June 12, 2017

Ninth Circuit Rejects Trump Administration’s Executive Order Barring Refugees

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today applauded the unanimous decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that holds that the Trump Administration’s executive order banning individuals from seven majority-Muslim countries, as well as limiting the resettlement of refugees in the United States, is a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The government has already asked the Supreme Court to stay the preliminary injunction. A decision is expected over the next few days.

“Today’s decision reaffirms what national security experts already know—there is no national security basis for limiting the resettlement of individuals who have survived violence and persecution. It doesn’t make our country safer, but instead fuels the narrative of those intent on harming the United States,” said Human Rights First’s Jennifer Quigley.

Today’s ruling holds that the president violated federal law in establishing a nationality-based discrimination for admission to the United States, as well as lowering the annual target for the admission of refugees. The judges found that, though the administration sought to justify the executive order on national security grounds, “National security is not a ‘talismanic incantation’ that, once invoked, can support any and all exercise of executive power.”

While the Fourth Circuit found the president’s executive order unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, today’s ruling asserts that the order is invalid even without tackling its unconstitutionality. The Ninth Circuit argued that, in order comply with the INA, the Trump Administration would have needed to prove that entry into the United States by individuals barred in the executive order would be “detrimental to the interest of the United States.” On the contrary, there is no documented link between an individual’s nationality and their propensity to commit terrorism.

By seeking to ban all refugees and nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, the executive order, and its predecessor, harmed rather than advanced U.S. national security. Former U.S. military leaders and national security officials, who have served both Democratic and Republican administrations, urge that “Welcoming refugees, regardless of their religion or race, exposes the falseness of terrorist propaganda and counters the warped vision of extremists,” and that “religious bans and tests are un-American and have no place in our immigration and refugee policies.” 

“This executive order is nothing but discrimination and intolerance cloaked in the language of national security, and the Ninth Circuit saw this order for what it is,” added Quigley.

The Ninth Circuit also found that the president acted improperly in decreasing the number of admitted refugees. This president does not have this authority without consultation with Congress, nor in the middle of a fiscal year. Citing Human Rights First’s amicus brief, the court noted that the public's interest is best served in uniting families and supporting humanitarian efforts.

“As the court said today with one voice, ‘immigration, even for the president, is not a one-person show.’ We now urge Supreme Court to reject the administration's request for a stay and uphold the preliminary injunction to ensure that the United States always remains a beacon for those seeking to live in safety and freedom,” noted Quigley. 

For more information or to speak with Quigley contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.