In late September, 2019, President Trump announced both that the U.S. would cap refugee resettlement at 18,000 during FY 2020, the lowest number by far since passage of the Refugee Act of 1980, and also issued an Executive Order creating an unprecedented new requirement that states and localities consent to refugee resettlement, as described here.
On December 16, 2019, Maine’s Governor Janet Mills gave Maine’s consent to continue participating in refugee settlement, as Maine has done for forty years. Localities also have to consent, and the process of obtaining their consent is well underway. However, even if localities in Maine wanted to continue resettling refugees, under the Executive Order, without the Governor’s consent, they could not do so. As of January 10, 2020, 42 states’ governors have given consent to resettle refugees in their states in FY 2020, with only Texas’s Governor Greg Abbott failing to do so.
MeBIC applauds Governor Mills for reaffirming Maine’s commitment to helping individuals who have had to flee persecution start their lives anew in safety here in Maine, and for her acknowledgement of refugees’ positive impact on the fabric of Maine’s communities and economy.
On a separate tack, the Executive Order’s legality has been challenged by three of the leading nationwide refugee resettlement agencies, Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, Church World Service, and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service . Oral argument in a federal court in Maryland was heard on January 8, 2019 regarding whether the consent requirement will be blocked while litigation on its legality is underway. A decision is expected imminently on the request for an injunction.