A federal judge in Seattle partially lifted a Trump administration ban on certain refugees, which came after two groups argued that the policy prevented people from some mostly Muslim countries from reuniting with their families living legally in the United States.
U.S. District Judge James Robart heard arguments in lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties and Jewish Family Service, both of which said that the ban harmed and put some people at risk, while government lawyers said the ban was essential for protecting national security. In the end, the judge ordered the federal government to restart processing the applications of refugees “with a bona fide relationship to a person or entity within the United States,” USA Today reported.
“The administration’s policy is ripping apart families and heartlessly keeping refugees who have survived traumatic situations from reuniting with loved ones,” said Enoka Herat, an attorney for ACLU, after Robart’s ruling.
The injunction comes two months after President Donald Trump’s administration announced it was replacing a 120-day suspension of refugee admissions with a more restrictive policy that would not allow refugees from 11 countries from entering the country.
The State Department’s data shows that refugees from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen make up 44 percent of the 53,716 refugees admitted to the United States in the 2017 fiscal year.
“We disagree with the Court’s ruling and are currently evaluating the next steps,” Lauren Ehrsam, Department of Justice spokeswoman, said.
A day before the president issued his order, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats sent a memo to Trump saying certain refugees must be banned unless additional security measures were implemented. Meanwhile, Robart stated that former national security officials said they were not aware of any national security threat that would serve as a justification for the new restrictions.