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Attorneys, Refugee Advocates Clash With Trump On Revised Immigration Order

Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services
Supporters of refugee resettlement in the U.S. march in Hartford, Conn., in February. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-CT3, third from left; Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., fourth from right; and IRIS Executive Director Chris George holds the sign at middle.

President Donald Trump’s updated executive order on immigration no longer bans the admission of Syrian refugees indefinitely, but the new order still limits how many refugees can come to the U.S. this year.

The new executive order keeps Trump’s call to reduce the number of refugees from about 110,000 to 50,000.

Chris George, executive director of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, a refugee resettlement agency in New Haven, calls the new immigration order a ban.

“We’re referring to it as a ban on refugees because that is probably its greatest, or its worst, impact. It is banning 60,000 refugees who we originally promised would come to the United States.”

George says the order keeps refugees from all over the world from coming to the U.S., not just those from the six majority-Muslim countries listed.

The order also halts the national refugee resettlement program for the next four months. The program has already welcomed about 40,000 people this fiscal year. George says that means only 10,000 more refugees would come between now and September.

Yale Law students who are working on the legal challenge against President Trump’s first so-called travel ban say the updated executive order still unfairly targets Muslims.

Trump’s first executive order banned travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries. It’s been suspended for about a month because it faces several lawsuits alleging violation of constitutional rights, like freedom of religion.

Students at the Yale Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic helped file one of those lawsuits. Victoria Roeck is one of them. She says the new order may also violate the Constitution.

“We believe that this second executive order is still a Muslim ban. It does not erase a long string of anti-Muslim comments by President Trump, and we do not believe it is immune to court challenges.”

Roeck says even though this executive order does not prioritize the entry of Christians, it still bars travelers from six majority-Muslim countries: Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya.

At a town hall meeting at Hamden Middle School on Monday night, U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, D-CT3, also condemned the revised executive order.

The veteran New Haven Democrat was responding to a constituent’s question when she said, “This is just a repackaged, maybe somewhat scaled back, version of this. There is still religious discrimination, and we shouldn’t be there. It is anti-refugee. It’s anti-immigrant. And for me it is about being anti-American.”

More than 200 people attended the event. The mostly anti-Trump audience told DeLauro they are worried about the policies of the new White House.


As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.
Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.