Delaware Public Media

No more refugees resettling in Delaware before new travel ban takes effect

Mar 9, 2017

No more refugees are scheduled to reach the First State before a new immigration executive order goes into effect next Thursday.

However, a family of four on a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) is set to arrive here Monday.

 

One category of these SIVs is reserved for Afghan or Iraqi nationals employed by the U.S. Government, who - according to a state department spokesman - often put their lives at risk, working directly with the U.S. military, at U.S. embassies and more.

 

“They come in through the refugee admissions program, but they’re a subset," said Bill Swersey with HIAS, the federal resettlement agency working to resettle refugees in Delaware.

 

Because these SIV holders aren’t considered refugees, they won’t be affected by the 120-day refugee travel ban.

 

That includes the family of four currently scheduled to resettle in the First State on that visa Monday.

 

For refugees who don’t already have travel plans, Swersey says their hands are tied. But he adds HIAS has had success rebooking a handful of flights for those originally scheduled to arrive on or after March 16th and settle elsewhere across the U.S.

 

“What’s our biggest concern is: are people going to get shut out at that point," Swersey said. "So essentially we’ve been moving travel that was previously scheduled, we’ve been trying to move it up to get people in before that door closes.”

Swersey notes HIAS will challenge this revised executive order in court – just as it did the first one.

 

“It’s going to be even more difficult to litigate against this, there’s going to be less of an uproar because it’s not going to be detaining people in the airports, everyone has advance notice, they know when it’s going to stop," said Sarah Green, refugee resettlement volunteer coordinator with Jewish Family Services of Delaware.