Activists, Politicians Call on Trump Administration to Fire Office of Refugee Resettlement Director

By Ayana Byrd Mar 14, 2018

Calls for the removal of Scott Lloyd from his position as director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) began with his appointment in March 2017. Today (March 15), members of Congress, reproductive health, human rights and immigrant justice activists delivered a petition with more than a quarter million signatures demanding his dismissal.

As Colorlines previously reported, per the Trump administration’s immigration policy, unaccompanied minors seeking an abortion must receive permission from the head of ORR. Reproductive rights activists maintain that Lloyd—who has no medical experience and a public anti-choice stance—lacks the ability to fulfill this duty in a way that is in the best interest of the minors. 

Calls for Lloyd to be removed from his role have been building for months. In October, The Washington Post reported: “The New York Times editorial board has called Lloyd an antiabortion “crusader.” The liberal Washington Post opinion columnist Ruth Marcus labeled him an “anti-abortion zealot.”

In January, Planned Parenthood released a statement saying that Lloyd should be fired, writing that he “personally and unconstitutionally used his position to intervene in young immigrant women’s personal medical decisions, including one who was a rape survivor, by contacting the women directly, ordering that all decisions about accessing safe, legal abortion go through him personally, and directing that they be taken to anti-abortion centers that often manipulate women and provide inaccurate information about abortion.”

Last month, Colorlines reported on a lawsuit brought against the Trump administration by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), alleging that the ORR is holding children who are immigrants with undocumented status in prolonged detention:

[NYCLU] says that ORR altered its policies in June 2017 to require that the agency’s director greenlight the release of any child held in its facilities. Scott Lloyd, the ORR director appointed by President Donald Trump, has only singed off on a handful of releases, according to the NYCLU, which says that more than 40 children are being detained indefinitely.

Today, organizers held a rally outside of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which houses ORR, and presented HHS Secretary Alex Azar with a petition containing 270,000 signatures calling for Lloyd’s dismissal. 

Among today’s attendees were Ann Marie Benitez of National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Vimala Phongsavanh of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and Patrice Lawrence of UndocuBlack Network. Congress members included representatives Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.). 

While speaking to the assembled crowd, Nadler said, "It sounds like a scene from ‘The Handsmaid’s Tale,’ but for these young women in Scott Lloyd’s custody, it’s far from fiction.”   

The rally was live streamed on Facebook, as the hashtags #FireScottLloyd and #JusticeForJane (to the unidentified teen who the Trump administration sought to prevent from obtaining an abortion) trended on Twitter.