Oxfam joins ACLU and Commonwealth of Massachusetts in lawsuit against Executive Order on refugees and immigrants

Published: 1st February 2017

Oxfam America announced today that it has joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on refugees and immigration.

The discriminatory Executive Order bars Syrian refugees from entering the United States indefinitely, suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days, imposes bans on refugees on the basis of their religion, and blocks citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, refugees or otherwise, from entering the United States for 90 days: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

“As a Boston – based global organization with a diverse workforce operating in more than 90 countries around the world, including five of the seven countries affected by the Executive Order, we are joining this lawsuit because our ability to  address  some of the  worst  humanitarian crises around the globe is severely jeopardized,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America. “Oxfam is proud to stand with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the ACLU of Massachusetts as a plaintiff in this case.”

Oxfam staff work alongside women, men, and children from Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, and other conflict zones around the world. Our humanitarian mission is crucial in those countries; for example, Oxfam America is one of the few international non-governmental organizations still allowed to function in Sudan, bringing much-needed relief to displaced populations in Darfur and beyond. As part of this work, Oxfam regularly brings authentic voices — our staff and partners from the field — to the US to speak with policy makers, business leaders, and donors about conditions in those countries and about Oxfam's operations. These meetings and discussions enable Oxfam to educate governmental officials about political and humanitarian conditions in the affected countries, answer specific questions helpful in shaping policy and practice with respect to countries where the United States government often has limited insight because of ongoing conflict, and keep Oxfam's programs in those countries funded and operational.

“Since the announcement Oxfam has been fighting the Executive Order on behalf of all those affected, including our staff, partners, and most of all, the refugees with whom we work, many who yearn to be one of the lucky few accepted into refugee resettlement programs that will enable them to restart their lives in peace and security,” continued Offenheiser. “Oxfam staff and supporters proudly joined demonstrations in cities and airports around the country this past weekend to call on President Trump and elected officials to immediately rescind the Executive Order, and we are proud to also pursue this legal action.”

The lawsuit was filed last Saturday by the ACLU of Massachusetts, and was also joined today by the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

“The ACLU welcomes Oxfam America and the Attorney General in our challenge to President Trump’s illegal, unconstitutional, and dangerous executive order,” said Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Their participation highlights the importance of this case to the lives of people throughout Massachusetts, the nation, and the world. We welcome all freedom-loving people to join efforts to defend our democracy, and to ensure liberty and justice for all.” 

“We as Americans must not close our minds, hearts, or our borders,” continued Offenheiser. “Oxfam calls on President Trump to immediately rescind this discriminatory and harmful Executive Order so that our country may continue to live up to the noble values upon which it was founded.”

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. is representing Oxfam America in this case.

Contact information

Emily Bhatti, Corporate and Brand Press Officer at Oxfam America,  EBhatti@OxfamAmerica.org or Office: +1 (617) 517-9461 / Cell: +1 (508) 868-6162 

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