State Governors Don't Have The Power To Refuse Syrian Refugees


Following reports that one of the gunmen responsible for the attacks in Paris might have entered Europe by posing as a Syrian refugee, several U.S. governors have released statements refusing to let refugees enter their states.

Governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, among others, have pledged to block refugees from entering their states, reports PBS.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said his state would refrain from being involved “in any program that will result in Syrian refugees — any one of whom could be connected to terrorism — being resettled in Texas.”

Unfortunately for these governors, there is no law that permits a state governor to decide immigration policy as there is for the president. Under the Refugee Act of 1980, only the president has the authority to accept foreign refugees, something that Florida Gov. Rick Scott acknowledged in a statement.

“It is our understanding that the state does not have the authority to prevent the federal government from funding the relocation of these Syrian refugees to Florida even without state support,” Scott said.

Instead, according to Scott, Congress should “take immediate and aggressive action to prevent President [Barack] Obama and his administration from using any federal tax dollars to fund the relocation of up to 425 Syrian refugees."

“Making policy based on this fear mongering is wrong for two reasons,” American Civil Liberties Union spokeswoman Cecillia Wang said of the governors’ requests to keep refugees out of their states.

“It is factually wrong for blaming refugees for the very terror they are fleeing, and it is legally wrong because it violates our laws and the values on which our country was founded.”

Sources: PBS, Think Progress / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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