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Frequently Asked Questions on the September 26th, 2019 Executive Order Requiring State/Local Consent for Refugee Resettlement

1.What is the Executive Order Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement (State/Local Refugee EO)1?

An Executive Order by President Trump issued on September 26, 2019, requiring official consent from
state and local government officials for federal government to resettle refugees in their area.

2. What does it do?

The State/Local Refugee EO implements an earlier proposal that would require greater involvement by
states and local jurisdictions in the placement and resettlement of refugees. (The earlier proposal
was reflected in EO 137802 from March 6, 2017). The State/Local Refugee EO requires the Secretary
of State (DOS) and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop and carry out a
process within 90 days to determine whether both states and localities across the country consent
to the resettlement of refugees in their locales. The Secretary of State will then publish any
consents/ approvals from states and localities.

3. Who will the State/Local Refugee EO impact?

It applies to all refugees coming through the DOS Reception and Placement Program (R&P), basically
all refugees who are vetted overseas and brought to the United States by DOS. With limited
exceptions, under this new EO, refugees can only be resettled in locations where both the state and local governments consent to their resettlement.

4. Are there any exceptions to the State/Local Refugee EO requiring state and local approval for resettlement?

Yes. The exceptions in the State/Local Refugee EO include situations in which denying resettlement
in that locale would be inconsistent with policies and strategies established under federal law
covering Office of Refugee Resettlement Pro- grams and other applicable law.3 If the Secretary of
State in consultation with the Secretary of HHS and the Secretary of Homeland Security, decides to
grant the exception and allow a refugee to resettle in a “non-consent” state or locale, then the
Secretary of State has to notify the President.

5. How would applying this exception work?

We do not know at this time. We are reviewing and have inquired for more information on the process
that will enable the exception.

6. What is the Catholic position on welcoming refugees and refugee resettlement generally?

Welcoming those escaping persecution, including refugees is a core social Catholic teaching
concept. It reflects the be- lief that that every human being is created in the image of God and is
therefore entitled to dignity and respect. The Catholic Church views assisting those in need as a
fundamental Christian duty that is derived directly from the words and the life of Christ, who
himself was a migrant and part of a refugee family. We as Christians are called to welcome our new
neighbors with the same love and compassion we would want ourselves to be shown in a time of
persecution. Refugees are from all over the world are sent to our communities and are fleeing
danger, exploitation, and persecution.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) working through local Catholic Charities and
thousands of Catholic volunteers has resettled an estimated 1 million of the over 3 million
refugees resettled in the modern U.S. refugee program. USCCB strongly supports the vital state and
local engagement in resettlement, and the current system that facilitates that crucial role. On
the other hand, we are concerned that this policy will invite legal challenges and could negatively
impact refugee welcome and family unity and add greatly to both processing uncertainty and refugee
processing time.

7. How do I support refugee resettlement in my community at this time?

• Voice Your Support for Refugees to Your Elected Leaders

• Learn More about Refugees and Refugee Resettlement. See our Refugee Resources on our Justice
for Immigrants page.4

• Volunteer to Assist and Welcome Refugees. Look to participate in our Parishes Organized to
Welcome Refugees and Immigrants Program.5

• Pray for Refugees and Participate and Lead Inclusive Activities in Your Parish. See our
resource, How the Church Assists Immigrants and Refugees.6

 

1. Executive Order, Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement, September 26, 2019, available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-enhancing-state-local-involvement-refugee-resettle- ment/
2 Executive Order 13780, Section 6(d), March 6, 2017, available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states-2/
3 “Authorization for programs for domestic resettlement of and assistance to refugees,” 8 USC sec.
1522, available at https://www.govregs.com/uscode/8/1522 (referenced 8 USC sec. 1522, (a)(2)(B)
&(C) and other federal law).
4 Justice for Immigrants, What We Are Working On: Refugees, available at https://justiceforimmigrants.org/what-we- are-working-on/refugees/
5 Parishes Organized to Welcome Refugees, a USCCB initiative that links local parishes to refugee
communities of welcome. For more information see https://brycs.org/promising/0151/
6 Justice for Immigrants, Community Engagement Resources, Ways to Assist Immigrants and Refugees,
available at https://justiceforimmigrants.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Transitioning-to-a-New-Administration-Assisting-Immi-grants-and-Refugees-English-5.28.19.pdf