by Robert Landicho, Associate, Vinson & Elkins LLP and ACS Houston Lawyer Chapter Board Member; Peggy Li, Associate Director of Student Chapters, American Constitution Society for Law and Policy; Melissa Freeling, Volunteer, International Refugee Assistance, Project Berkeley Law Chapter and 2019 J.D. Candidate, University of California, Berkeley School of Law.
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27th, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order barring entry for all refugees to the United States for 120 days, suspending entry for Syrian refugees indefinitely and banning all visa holders from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days.
This ban faces challenges under due process, equal protection, international law, and immigration law (see the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed against Trump, DHS, and Customs and Border Protection); and damages the United States’ already declining reputation in the region. But more fundamentally, Trump’s executive order irresponsibly endangers families that are legitimately seeking (or have already been granted) refuge from conflict or persecution. When families apply for refugee status, they are already thoroughly vetted through a series of interviews involving USCIS, the FBI, DHS, DOD and other government agencies, which can take years to complete. Not only is the premise of the executive order not grounded in facts or reality (i.e., there is no evidence that the executive order will succeed in achieving its stated aims)—this overbroad and unnecessary action completely disregards the many lives it irrevocably alters.