Shearman And Sterling

News February 02, 2021

Shearman & Sterling Secures Pro Bono Victory with the International Refugee Assistance Project

Shearman & Sterling in partnership with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) secured an important pro bono victory on behalf of refugee resettlement organizations that filed suit challenging the Trump Administration’s executive order restricting the resettlement of refugees in the United States.  Following the filing of a lawsuit, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland entered a nationwide injunction of the executive order and related funding notice that required refugee resettlement organizations to obtain written consent from state and local government representatives prior to resettling refugees in those jurisdictions.  On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit unanimously affirmed the district court’s decision.

The Fourth Circuit found that plaintiffs—three of the nine organizations that have historically partnered with the federal government to resettle refugees in jurisdictions across the United States—demonstrated that “they are likely to succeed on their claim that the [Executive] Order and [Funding] Notice violate the carefully crafted scheme for resettling refugees that Congress established in the Refugee Act.”  The Court upheld the nationwide scope of the injunction, finding that the resettlement program “by its nature impacts refugees assigned to all nine resettlement agencies” and that “[e]njoining the Order and Notice only as to the plaintiff resettlement agencies would cause inequitable treatment of refugees and undermine the very national consistency that the Refugee Act is designed to protect.”

This is an important victory because it secures the equitable treatment of refugees across the United States and protects the refugee resettlement program from partisan interference.

The Shearman & Sterling team below also included associate Margaret McLoughlin.

The Team


Regional Experience