The replacement travel ban order signed Monday by President Donald Trump will trigger a new blackout period for refugee resettlement in Nebraska and throughout the U.S.
If it passes legal muster, the order will halt new refugee arrivals for 120 days, until mid-July. It also reasserts Trump's plan to allow no more than 50,000 new refugees into the U.S. this federal fiscal year, less than half what the Obama administration accepted last year.
"I think we all expected this," said Kathy Bigsby Moore, interim director at Omaha's Refugee Empowerment Center, one of three refugee resettlement agencies in the state.
The new order was crafted in hopes of withstanding legal scrutiny that doomed Trump's previous travel ban.
A federal judge in Washington state suspended much of the original order Feb. 3, and a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later upheld the freeze.
People are also reading…
In interviews with national media outlets, Democrats and civil rights groups said the new executive order is still prejudicial.
“This is a retreat, but let’s be clear — it’s just another run at a Muslim ban,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups that sued to stop the first order.
“At its core, the second order looks very similar to the first, and I expect it will run into the same problems from the courts and the public that the first one did," Jadwat told the New York Times. "They can’t unring the bell.”
White House officials have said the ban is a necessary step as they re-evaluate whether the immigration system is secure enough to weed out potential terrorists.
“Unregulated, unvetted travel is not a universal privilege, especially when national security is at stake,” said John F. Kelly, the secretary of Homeland Security.
The new order's approach to refugees is substantially similar to the first, but there are some differences in the document Trump signed Monday.
It excludes Iraqi nationals, current visa holders and lawful, permanent U.S. residents from the original temporary ban on travelers from certain Muslim-majority countries. The new ban also won't take full effect until March 16, giving people time to adjust their plans.
At that point, entry by most nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen will be suspended for 90 days. All refugee arrivals will be halted for four months.
Nebraska's resettlement agencies say none of their immediate plans will be dashed by the 120-day freeze.
Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska and Catholic Social Services of southern Nebraska said the latest landings they have planned are Friday, which is before the new ban takes effect. Refugee Empowerment Center has no arrivals on its calendar.
But the 120-day freeze could deepen the overall crunch those organizations are experiencing.
Lutheran Family Services and Refugee Empowerment Center had already announced staff cuts in response to Trump's 50,000-refugee limit, which lasts through September.
Funding for Refugee Empowerment Center's resettlement division might dry up entirely by June without new refugees to help, possibly forcing deeper cuts, Bigsby Moore said.
Ruth Henrichs, president and CEO at Lutheran Family Services, said in a statement that while Trump's new order corrects "some of of the most glaring flaws" in the first order, the agency still opposes limiting arrivals during what she called the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
Catholic Social Services has already exceeded its allotment for new refugees during the first half of the fiscal year, which started in October, said director Curt Krueger. He doesn't anticipate any cuts as a result of the order.
However, Krueger said, "Whatever the president is looking for, I hope he finds it quickly."
Reach the writer at 402-473-7234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @zachami.