Executive Order 13888: Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement

Last Updated

October 2, 2019

President Trump issued an Executive Order13888 on Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement, or the “Executive Order”, on Sept. 26 that will allow states and localities to restrict the resettlement of refugee in their areas. The Executive Order directs that within 90 days of the date of the order, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall resettle refugees only in areas where both state and local governments consent in writing to the resettlement of refugees in their respective areas. Without mutual consent, the Secretary of State may only settle refugees in an area if not doing so would be inconsistent with federal law.


How is this different from previous practice?

The Executive Order is contrary to federal law, which directs the Office of Refugee Resettlement, or ORR, to make geographical resettlement determinations. See 8 U.S.C. 1522(a)(2)(D). ORR may consult with and take into account the recommendations of the state and local governments when deciding where to settle refugees; however, states and localities are not authorized to determine the placement of refugees.


What challenges are presented by the Executive Order?

  • The Executive Order emboldens state and local governments to enact anti-refugee resettlement legislation that restrict vulnerable individuals’ ability to seek safety in the United States and rebuild their lives.
  • Refugees go through rigorous security and medical scrutiny before being allowed to travel to the United States so there is no reason other than anti-immigrant sentiment for state and local government to reject refugee resettlement in their region. Implementation of this order would further delay the refugee resettlement process.
  • Enforcement of this law would delay refugees’ ability to achieve early self-sufficiency.  One of the important factors Congress directed ORR to consider when determining where to settle refugees is the availability of resources, such as job training and educational programs, to enable refugees to integrate and become independent. Allowing state and local governments to reject refugees would force ORR to resettle them in other parts of the country, away from the resources and support they need to integrate.
  • This law would separate families, as agencies would have to resettle refugees in welcoming states away from relatives who have already been resettled in states that do not consent to receiving more refugees.

CLINIC opposes the Executive Order as it limits refugees’ ability to seek protection in the United States. CLINIC will support the efforts of its state-level partners in their advocacy for policies that embrace our brothers and sisters who are fleeing persecution and other unsafe conditions.


How can you help?

  • Ask your governor to issue a statement of support that welcomes refugees to the state and highlights the contributions they make to local communities.
  • Urge your state and local officials to adopt resolutions welcoming refugees.
  • Organize sign-on letters from nonprofits or faith leaders that urge your elected officials to consent to refugee resettlement.
  • Activate your local business community to call for refugee resettlement through sign-on letters or individual letters of support to help boost the local workforce and economy.
  • Encourage refugees to share their stories, their accomplishments and contributions to the communities.


For more information, read Justice for Immigrant's FAQs on the Executive Order.