Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A federal judge issued an injunction Wednesday to block an order by President Donald Trump that would allow states and cities to turn away foreign refugees, saying the measure is most likely illegal.
Maryland District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte granted the restraining order against Trump's executive order, issued last September, until the legal challenges are resolved. The presidential order had been set to take effect in a few days.
The ruling is a victory for refugee advocates who feared the order would grant veto power against refugee settlement.
"[The order] does not appear to serve the overall public interest," Messitte wrote in a 31-page decision. "Refugee resettlement activity should go forward as it developed for the almost 40 years before [Trump's order] was announced."
Trump said the order is intended to give U.S. communities a say in deciding whether they want to accept refugees from war-torn nations and migrants fleeing persecution. Resettlement agencies argue that giving local-level officials vet power dismantles an existing network of support and threatens refugees' access to housing, employment and English language classes.
The order calls for "a process to determine whether the state and locality both consent, in writing ... before refugees are resettled."
Forty-two state governors and more than 100 local governments have indicated they welcome refugees. Texas, which received more refugees than any other state last year, said this month it won't accept any new refugees. Gov. Greg Abbott said the state has "carried more than its share."