Episcopal Church in Washington State Sues Trump Over Travel Ban

The Office of the Bishop for The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia in Washington state.
The Office of the Bishop for The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia in Washington state. | (Photo: The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia)

A diocese of The Episcopal Church is suing the federal government over President Donald Trump's executive order curbing immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia filed the lawsuit earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle.

In the suit, which the Diocese of Olympia provided to The Christian Post on Tuesday, the Episcopal body argues that the executive order interferes with their ability to minister.

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"Plaintiff the Episcopal Diocese brings its claims based on the Executive Order's harm to its own mission activities, as well as the Order's harm to the refugees served by the Diocese, thereby shielding those vulnerable refugee individuals from the retaliation they reasonably fear if they were to assert their claims directly," reads the suit.

U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with teachers and parents on education at the White House.
U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with teachers and parents on education at the White House. | Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

"The Individual Plaintiffs, the class they seek to represent, and the Episcopal Diocese (collectively, 'Plaintiffs'), currently suffer serious harm and will continue to suffer such harm until and unless this Court preliminarily and permanently enjoins the Executive Order. Plaintiffs have no adequate remedy at law."

Josh Hornbeck, communications director for the Diocese of Olympia, told CP in an interview on Tuesday that the diocese has had a Refugee Resettlement Office since 1978.

"The RRO resettles 190 individuals each year out of the 65 million people worldwide who have been displaced by violence, war, famine, and persecution," said Hornbeck.

"We joined with the ACLU's lawsuit to overturn President Trump's ban on refugees because the executive order places our ministry of refugee resettlement in jeopardy and does real harm to both our Refugee Resettlement Office and the people served by the RRO."

Days after being sworn in as president, Trump signed Executive Order 13769, which was titled "Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United Sates."

EO 13769 prohibited for a period of at least 90 days travel to and from seven primarily Muslim nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. It also suspended the admission of all refugees for 120 days.

Critics of the executive order argue, among other things, that it unjustly targets nonviolent immigrants and refugees and discriminates against Muslims.

Supporters of the executive order state that the measure was necessary to reassess the nation's vetting process for immigrants from nations known for having a strong terrorist presence.

Earlier this month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a temporary suspension of the immigration order while litigation proceeds.

Regarding the question of national security concerns, Hornbeck explained to CP that the "Gospel calls us to welcome the stranger."

"Welcoming the stranger means that we need to overcome our fear and move beyond our own feelings of comfort," said Hornbeck.

"We also would encourage those who are fearful to review the facts. We already have an incredibly stringent vetting procedure that can take up to two years."

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