More than 30 U.S. states refusing Syrian refugees on ‘shaky legal ground’
The governors of at least 31 mostly Republican states have announced they will bar Syrian asylum-seekers from attempting to start new lives in their communities.
But the tough-sounding pledges — coming just days after 129 people were murdered by Islamic militants in France — may not have much of a legal foundation to stand on, according to Washington authorities on immigration and refugee issues.
“It’s very shaky legal ground,” said Robert McCaw, the government affairs officer with the Council on American–Islamic Relations on Capitol Hill. “The thing is, these governors don’t really have any legal means to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees.”
To date, governors of the majority of America’s states — including such southern bastions of conservatism as Georgia, Alabama and Florida, as well as northern states like Michigan, Illinois and Maine — have pulled in the welcome mat, saying Syrian refugees pose a security risk that must be taken into account.
ough line also mirrors that which some Republican presidential candidates are taking in the wake of the Paris attacks. But immigration isn’t a state-determined issue here, it is a federal one.
U.S. refugee admissions are announced by the State Department every year on Oct. 1 as part of the White House’s presidential determination for allowing refugees in a given fiscal year.
State governors thus do not have the authority to set limits on who or what the refugee influx should look like, said Westy Egmont, director of the Immigration Integration Lab at Boston College.
“Any refugee welcome to the U.S. has legal status, and therefore the freedom of movement within all 50 states,” Egmont said. “We don’t have borders between New Hampshire and Vermont, or New York and Pennsylvania. People are coming and they get to choose where they choose to be.” (Source: CBC News)
31 US Governors refuse accommodating #refugees from lands the US is currently bombing: https://t.co/7MXU3L1kqk pic.twitter.com/rCZQdp8geJ
— Graeme MacKay (@mackaycartoons) November 20, 2015