Although half the nation’s governors say they are opposed to letting Syrian refugees into their states in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, most states have taken in fewer than 100 refugees.
The state that has taken the most refugees is California with 218, according to a list published by the TheBlaze. Other refugees have gone to Texas and Michigan who have taken 194 and 188 respectively. Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Ohio round out the list. Ohio, in the number 10 slot, has only taken in 72 refugees.
According to CNN only 1,500 Syrian refugees have been accepted into the country since 2011. While TheBlaze reports that the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center has “processed” 1,809 Syrian nationals this year.
It is unclear from TheBlaze’s reporting if those have completed the reportedly lengthy process. Either way both numbers are extremely low in contrast to the estimated 4 million Syrians who, according to a September CNN story, have fled their war-torn country.
But as of Nov. 16, 27 governors in states ranging from Georgia and Alabama to Michigan and Illinois, have said they will not accept any more, CNN reports.
Their announcements come, according to CNN, as reports surface that at least one of the perpetrators of the Paris attacks entered Europe with a wave of Syrian refugees in early October.
“I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way,” Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama, a Republican, said Nov. 16.
The calls to close off states to Syrian refugees are problematic in a number of ways.
The Obama administration announced in September that 10,000 Syrian refugees will be allowed entry into the United States in 2016.
As talk of closing states, and even the entire country, to refugees continued to swirl, President Barack Obama addressed the idea at the G20 economic summit in Turkey on Nov. 16.
“Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values,” he said according, to Mother Jones.
He also responded to suggestions that the U.S. ought only allow Christian refugees into the country.
“When I heard political leaders suggest that there would be a religious test for which a person who's fleeing a warn-torn country is admitted...that's shameful,” the president said. “That's not American. That's not who we are. We don't have religious tests to our compassion.”
As for closing off single states, that too is problematic according to legal analysts.
“Legally, states have no authority to do anything because the question of who should be allowed in this country is one that the Constitution commits to the federal government,” American University law professor Stephen I. Vladeck told CNN.
Once in the country, refugees are free to move wherever they please, Lavinia Limon, former director of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, told Yahoo Politics.
“It’s really a question of fundamental freedoms,” she said. “If you’re legally residing in the United States, you have the right to move wherever you wish to. We could resettle a refugee in New York City today, and tomorrow they could decide to move to Dallas.”
Photo credit: Freedom House/Flickr