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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
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December 17, 2019

ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL DEFENDS REFUGEES AGAINST UNLAWFUL EXECUTIVE ORDER

Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh today led a coalition of 12 attorneys general in an amicus brief seeking to block the unlawful executive order on refugee resettlement and the U.S. Department of State’s recent attempt to implement that order’s consent requirement. The executive order seeks to upend the existing refugee resettlement process by requiring resettlement agencies to obtain written consent from state and county authorities before being able to place refugees in their jurisdictions.

In the brief filed in HIAS, Inc. v. Trump, Raoul and the coalition argue that the executive order violates the Refugee Act of 1980, interferes with state sovereignty, undermines family reunification efforts and disrupts the states’ abilities to deliver essential resources that help refugees contribute to the communities that welcome them.

“Congress’ intention in passing the Refugee Act was to protect people who were fleeing dangerous conditions in their countries,” Raoul said. “Unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles should not be permitted to keep them from their loved ones. My office is committed to ensuring that families can stay together.”

Each year, thousands of refugees are admitted into the United States and can connect with services, resources and members of their families or communities that help them not simply adjust, but thrive. The executive order threatens to erode the decades-old refugee relocation system established by Congress, which provides for the effective resettlement of refugees and assists them in achieving economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible.

The Refugee Act does not grant the president the authority to give states or their local governments the ability to veto the initial placement of refugees within their jurisdictions. The new federal requirement to seek additional consent from county authorities undermines state sovereignty and runs contrary to one of the purposes of the Refugee Act: to give states a greater voice in making recommendations about refugee placement. Moreover, the consent requirement places an undue administrative burden on resettlement agencies, which would hinder the states’ abilities to deliver services.

Since 2001, Illinois has welcomed and resettled 33,627 refugees. Illinois has established a statewide system for facilitating funding for refugee placement in the state, as well as long-term services and programs to support refugees.

Raoul and the coalition also argue that the executive order undermines the Refugee Act’s family reunification provisions. Contrary to the act, the executive order would prevent family reunification, unless local governments consent, for certain refugees who have non-refugee family members already living in the United States. As a result, under the executive order, refugees could be prevented from resettling in communities where they already have a child, parent or sibling. Failing to adequately take existing familial ties into account contravenes congressional intent and directly harms efforts to maximize cultural supports that help refugees and their communities succeed.

Joining Raoul, Becerra, and Frosh in filing the brief are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.

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