ST. PAUL — A federal judge in Maryland on Wednesday, Jan. 15, blocked the Trump administration order allowing states and counties to bar the placement of refugees in their communities.
U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte in his ruling said President Donald Trump's order giving local authorities the ability to determine whether refugees in their community doesn't seem to serve the public interest. Messitte issued a preliminary injunction, saying the three refugee resettlement groups that challenged the order would likely succeed in proving the order is unlawful.
The move comes after dozens of Minnesota counties have weighed allowing additional refugees to resettle in their communities, fueling emotional conversations in some communities. Gov. Tim Walz, along with dozens of other governors around the country, has provided consent for resettlement, teeing up decisions at the county level.
In response to the court's block on the order, Walz and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, both told reporters that they supported the decision. Ellison last month signed onto an amicus brief supporting the challenge to the Trump administration's order.
"I think it is certainly an infringement on state sovereignty and it has a very ugly and pernicious effect on our state and our country," Ellison told reporters. "What it's really asking folks to do is to sign up for whether you are for people who are fleeing war and pestilence and harm or sign up for whether you're against it."
Ellison, a Democrat serving his first term, advised county leaders to reach out to county attorneys and to his office about whether to hold public votes about refugee placement.
President Donald Trump in September signed the executive order that requires explicit consent from state and local officials to allow for the resettlement of refugees. States or counties that take no action on the subject are set to be considered as declining additional placements.
The measure is set to take effect in June, but resettlement groups must submit their plans for proposed refugee placement to the State Department by the end of the month. And in the days and weeks leading up to that deadline, county commissions around the state weighed welcoming refugees into their communities.
One Minnesota county — Beltrami — has voted not to allow additional placements of those fleeing war, persecution or natural disasters, citing concerns about county resources and the integration of individuals of different cultures. The move drew a call by supporters of refugee resettlement to boycott the county as well as calls by some state lawmakers to block local government aid funding.
Walz has said he opposes blocking local government aid. And other elected officials have defended county officials' ability to make a choice for their community.
It wasn't immediately clear Wednesday whether the Trump administration would appeal.