Knights of Columbus Attorney Named Director of Office of Refugee Resettlement

A protester against the United States' acceptance of Syrian refugees uses a U.S. flag to block a counter-protester's sign that read ''Refugees Welcome'' during a demonstration at the Washington State capitol in Olympia, Washington, November 20, 2015. REUTERS/David Ryder
REUTERS/David Ryder

President Donald Trump has selected Scott Lloyd to serve as the new director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the office within the Department of Health and Human Services that administers the payments to the voluntary agencies (VOLAGs) that resettle refugees in the United States.

The refugee resettlement issue figured prominently in the 2016 presidential election and has been at the center of a heated political and legal controversy during the first two and a half months of the Trump administration.

On the campaign trail, President Trump promised to halt the flow of refugees from Syria and other countries that are hostile to the United States into the country. Hillary Clinton argued publicly for a dramatic increase in the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the country as well as an overall increase in the number of refugees allowed.

The clear difference in refugee resettlement policy taken by the two candidates is one of the reasons Trump won and Clinton lost.

A week after his inauguration, President Trump honored his campaign promise on January 27 by issuing Executive Order 13769, which temporarily stopped the flow of all refugees into the United States. It also placed a ceiling on the number of refugees who could enter the country in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 at 50,000 and temporarily halted the issuance of visas to residents of seven Middle Eastern countries — Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Iran, and Iraq.

When Judge James Robart of the U.S.District Court of Western Washington issued a temporary restraining order halting much of that order nationwide, he left intact the section that placed a FY 2017 limit of 50,000 refugees.

But when Judge Derrick Watson of the U.S. District Court of Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order on March 15 halting President Trump’s second version of that temporary refugee and travel ban, Executive Order 13780, he specifically halted the section of the revised order that set the FY 2017 limit of refugees at 50,000.

Lloyd assumes the reins at the Office of Refugee Resettlement just as the Department of State appears to have surrendered without a fight to Judge Watson’s controversial order halting of the president’s limitation on the refugee ceiling for FY 2017.

The State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration is the federal agency that determines, in concert with the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, how many refugees the president will propose to Congress should be refunded for resettlement in the United States in any given fiscal year.

Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) Simon Henshaw — one of the top ten Obama holdover bureaucrats Breitbart News identified in February that President Trump could “fire or remove” — is the key figure at the State Department who advises Secretary Tillerson on this program.

Last week, both the Huffington Post and World Net Daily reported that officials at the State Department have stated that, in response to judicial decisions, the State Department will be increasing the number of refugees resettled in the United States to 900 per week. The move confounded critics of the refugee resettlement program who supported President Trump through the campaign and his issuance of the two Executive Orders that have been halted by the decisions by federal judges in Washington, Hawaii, and Maryland.

Once PRM delivers refugees to a particular state for resettlement, ORR takes over the administration of the program, which amounts to sending substantial federal funds (that have run annually around $1 billion) to voluntary agencies (VOLAGs) like HIAS (formerly Hebrew Immigration Aid Society), one of the plaintiffs who brought the suit against President Trump’s Executive Order 13780 in Maryland.

Despite the recent statements from the State Department, it is not entirely clear if ORR currently has enough funding to pay for the resettlement of refugees at a rate of 900 per week for the balance of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30.

Congress has funded the federal budget for FY 2017 only partially until April 28, when the current continuing resolution expires.

Breitbart News previously estimated that current funding from that continuing resolution would cover only about 48,000 refugees for resettlement for the balance of the FY 2017, which is about 14,000 below the estimated 62,000-level that would be reached at the State Department’s recently announced 900 per week for the rest of the fiscal year.

To reach that higher State Department level, the Department of Health and Human Services would have to request significant additional funding for ORR as part of the budget package currently being considered by Congress, which would cover the period from April 29 to September 30.

How Lloyd responds to this situation is the first big test he faces in his new job.

Though the State Department may support a higher number of refugees, Congress may not fund it, and Lloyd’s position on the issue has yet to be heard.

Unlike the previous two directors who served under President Obama, Lloyd does not come after prior service at a voluntary agency (VOLAG) which is funded through the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Lloyd’s appointment came with little fanfare and almost went unnoticed.

“Sources indicate that late last week, President Trump appointed Edward Scott Lloyd to be the new Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement,” This Week in Immigration reported on March 28.

“Lloyd  joins ORR from the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal and charitable organization, where he served as an attorney in the Public Policy office. In that capacity, he helped shape the organization’s humanitarian response and led its policy advocacy on behalf of the ethnic and religious minorities who are victims of ISIS,” according to his bio on the ORR website.

Before joining the Knights, he worked in private practice, at the Department of Health and Human Services (IOS/OGC), and on Capitol Hill (Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources). Scott was an elementary English and Social Studies teacher before attending law school.

Mr. Lloyd received his undergraduate education at James Madison University and earned his J.D. at Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. He is licensed in Virginia, where he resides with his wife, Ann, and their six children.

This Week in Immigration adds more information on Lloyd’s background:

While at Catholic University, Scott served as a research assistant in the school’s Law & Religion Program. In that capacity, Scott assisted in representing the Schiavo family during the famous case, Schindler v. Schiavo.

Prior to his appointment to ORR, Lloyd served on the Board of Directors of the Front Royal Pregnancy Center and is Vice Chairman and co-founder of the WitnessWorks Foundation for a Culture of Life. He was a contributing writer at HLI America, as well as Veritas Splendor and the Center for Morality in Public Life’s Ethika Politka. Lloyd also was a member of the John Carroll Society, Brent Society and the Federalist Society.


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