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How the Supreme Court Announcement Affects Refugees

On Monday, June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will allow the federal government to suspend the United States refugee resettlement program for four months (120 days) and enact a three-month (90-day) travel ban on foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The 120-day refugee program suspension will be in effect from June 29 to October 27, 2017.

What does this mean for refugees?

For the 120-day suspension, the Supreme Court stated one significant exception: foreign nationals with a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

What does this mean for refugees? For individuals like Exode, Aimee, and Catherine, who were resettled in Kentucky through KRM?

We hope it means refugees joining family members here in Louisville or Lexington will still be able to travel. To reunite with their loved ones, safe from the violence and persecution they have fled.

However, what about the refugee families who would be the first among their family members to arrive? Who do not already have family here in the U.S. but were on the verge of being resettled in Kentucky? These are the families for whom KRM ordinarily seeks local co-sponsor support from faith and civic groups.

During this suspension, these families may be denied entry into the United States. They may be forced to further await their resettlement.

UPDATE: On June 29, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security shared guidance on how the United States will implement these changes, including the qualifying relationships for resettlement. An excerpt states, “The Supreme Court explained, ‘For individuals, a close familial relationship is required. . . .’ A ‘close family’ relationship includes: a parent (including parent-in-law), spouse, child, adult son or daughter, fiancé(e), son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and sibling, whether whole or half. This includes step relationships. However, ‘close family’ does not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law and any other ‘extended’ family members.”

What does this mean for our communities?

In Louisville and Lexington, we are communities of hospitality, welcome, and compassion. Refugees are fleeing terror, war, and persecution. Refugees are coming to Kentucky to find safety, to rebuild, and to give their children a future.

KRM has been here for over 27 years. You have been with us along the way, giving your time to make newcomers feel welcomed, respected, and empowered.

We will continue to serve refugee families here in Kentucky the way we always do – with respect and compassion. We are grateful to have you alongside us.

Learn more about the Supreme Court decision in a statement from Church World Service, one of our national resettlement agencies. Revisit information about where we go from here and how you can support refugees in these KRM blog posts from earlier this year.

Photo credit for the family portrait, featured above: Megan Resch.