Can the States Reject Syrian Refugees?
There has always been a great fear among Americans that the Muslims coming into our country might have terrorist ties. Who knows what they might think or what their motive might be for coming to America. This has not been at any time more acutely felt since 9/11 as it is today. With the attacks in Paris, Americans fear the thought of Syrian refugees entering the country.
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And our leaders, at least at the state level have heard the people.
Several governors say that they will not resettle any refugees from Syria in their states, amid reports that at least one of the Paris attackers slipped through Europe’s immigration system and concerns about “gaping holes” impacting America’s screening process.
These states have made it known that they will resist the resettling of Syrians in their states, respectively. And it would seem that such a declaration by these governors will have placed the administration in a tough spot—especially as they have made it clear that they will not be changing their plans.
Earlier Sunday, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told “Fox News Sunday” that President Obama still plans to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country within the next year and expressed confidence in the U.S. screening process.
“We had very robust vetting procedures for those refugees,” Rhodes said.
However, Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, disagreed with Rhodes’ assessment.
The administration is moving forward with the plan to dump 10,000 Syrians into American states. This disregard for events abroad and the wishes of the people has prompted the governors to declare that they will not accept these refugees.
On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that he sent a letter to President Obama saying that Texas will not take any Syrian refugees in light of the attacks.
He joined a growing list of governors who have said they will not resettle Syrian refugees, including Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson in opposing the move, who said Monday in a tweet, “As Governor I will oppose Syrian refugees being located to Arkansas.”
These governors seem to feel responsible for the people they were elected to protect. Maybe they realize that there is more to leadership than ruling over a people. Maybe they think that these people have given their rights of defense and recompense to these governors with the understanding that they would defend them and their property.
But some seem to think that this oversteps the governor’s authority.
Think Progressive reports:
The problem for Jindal, Abbott and the other governors opposed to admitting refugees, however, is that there is no lawful means that permits a state government to dictate immigration policy to the president in this way. As the Supreme Court explained in Hines v. Davidowitz, “the supremacy of the national power in the general field of foreign affairs, including power over immigration, naturalization and deportation, is made clear by the Constitution.” States do not get to overrule the federal government on matters such as this one.
Just in case there is any doubt, President Obama has explicit statutory authorization to accept foreign refugees into the United States. Under the Refugee Act of 1980, the president may admit refugees who face “persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion” into the United States, and the president’s power to do so is particularly robust if they determine that an “unforeseen emergency refugee situation” such as the Syrian refugee crisis exists.
Once again, the states will find that their executives are mere figureheads. These governors, then, would have neither the power nor the ability to defend their citizens. They will be forced to sit by and watch as these Syrians are forced on their communities.
The only hope would be to resist, but it seems that is exactly what the federal government wants. Why else go against the people’s wishes?
*Article by Michael Ware