On January 27, Donald Trump signed the executive order heard 'round the world, causing pandemonium at airports nationwide and beyond. The deeply unpopular order—if polls are to be believed, which, according to the president, they are not—drove a stake through the heart of the American mythology on immigration, suspending refugee entry for 120 days, barring Syrian refugees indefinitely, and temporarily blocking visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries. Throughout the country, split families worried anxiously about relatives stuck abroad.
At least for now, the future may not be quite so bleak. After a whirlwind week of protests and a dizzying back-and-forth between the administration and the courts, the saga culminated with a temporary hold on the ban—for the time being. On Sunday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the administration's request to reinstate the ban after it was temporarily placed on hold by Seattle federal judge James Robart. The decision led to an all-too familiar Trump meltdown on Twitter, calling Robart (a George W. Bush appointee) a "so-called judge" whose decision was "ridiculous."
With the ban at least temporarily on pause, there's a window of opportunity for refugees hoping to make it to the United States, including in North Carolina. Scott Phillips, the director of the state office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, says the organization is slated to resettle "multiple" families this week after having to put its activities on hold. Last week, two families USCRI planned to resettle hailed from one of Trump's seven banned countries, "so they were not going to be allowed to come in," Phillips says. Another family came from the Congo and was allowed to come to the country as long as they arrived before February 3.
For now, USCRI can move forward with its resettlements—although this time next week, there could be another twist in the saga. And while Phillips and others certainly have their eye on the order as it makes its way through the courts, they're primarily focused on doing the work they've been doing for the past decade—work that has resulted in the resettlement of roughly three thousand families in the Tar Heel State.
"As we continue, we are watching what's happening in the court system, but we are looking at the families that are arriving and doing what we can to make sure they get resettled with the same efficiency and success that we normally work with all of our clients," Phillips says. "Because at the heart of what we do, we think about people. We're helping these people come."
This article appeared in print with the headline "A New Hope."