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Wave of Governors Say Their States Will Refuse Syrian Refugees

Wave of Governors Say Their States Will Refuse Syrian Refugees

After Paris attacks, states say they’ll refuse Syrian refugees—but is it legal?

A growing list of mostly Republican Governors sent open letters to the federal government on Monday, announcing that because of the terrorist attacks in Paris, France, their states would not accept refugees from Syria, and urging the federal government to cease any efforts to bring Syrian refugees to the United States unless better security procedures could be implemented.

The most updated list, according to CNN, of Governors sending these letters include those representing Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and the lone Democrat on the list thus far, New Hampshire.

The main cause for concern was the fact that at least one of the terrorists involved in the attack on Paris had entered the country by posing as a Syrian refugee, and that a terrorist could take similar advantage of the refugee crisis to enter America. As Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) noted in his letter, “American humanitarian compassion could be exploited to expose Americans to similar deadly danger.”

FBI Director admits feds can’t properly vet the Syrian refugees

There were concerns about the Syrian refugees even before last Friday’s attacks.

Just last month, FBI Director James Comey testified to Congress that the federal government lacks the resources to properly conduct background checks on the 10,000 Syrian refugees that the Obama administration had announced at that time would be allowed to enter the United States. Unlike the how the Iraqi refugees were vetted, where our government had a decade’s worth of records in their databases from being involved on the ground there, no such history exists in Syria.

“We can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing show up because we have no record of them,” testified Comey. Syria, on the other hand, is a “different situation.”

Now, with at least 129 dead and hundreds more wounded in Paris, the concerns have become reality regarding the risks posed by unvetted Syrian refugees.

Syrian refugees already in Louisiana

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) was actually the first governor to send a letter to Obama regarding the Syrian refugees, sending his the day after the Paris attacks. The first wave of Syrian refugees had actually already arrived in the United States, arriving in New Orleans last week.

Jindal condemned how Louisiana had been “kept in the dark” about the refugees being placed in his state. “It is irresponsible and severely disconcerting to place individuals, who may have ties to ISIS, in a state without the state’s knowledge or involvement,” he wrote.

After listing several requests for information about the refugees and what efforts (if any) had been made to investigate their backgrounds, Jindal implored the White House to “pause the process of refugees coming to the United States.”

“The threat posed to Texas by ISIS is very real.”

Abbott’s message was similar to Jindal’s: to announce that “the State of Texas will not accept any refugees from Syria in the wake of the deadly terrorist attack in Paris” and to “implore” the president to halt his plans to accept more Syrian refugees. “Effective today, I am directing the Texas Health & Human Services Commission’s Refugee Resettlement Program to not participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the State of Texas,” he wrote.

Abbott also cited several examples of specific threats to Texas from ISIS, including the attack in Garland, Texas earlier this year:

The threat posed to Texas by ISIS is very real. ISIS claimed credit last May when two terrorist gunmen launched an attack in Garland, Texas. Less than two weeks later, the FBI arrested an Iraqi-born man in North Texas and charged him with lying to federal agents about traveling to Syria to fight with ISIS. And in 2014, when I served as Texas attorney general, we participated in a Joint Terrorism Task Force that arrested two Austin residents for providing material support to terrorists – including ISIS.

Other elected officials in Texas applauded Abbott’s letter, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), who noted that Texas “had a long history of welcoming refugees and displaced people from all over the world,” like the thousands of Louisianans who had been left homeless by Hurricane Katrina, but that the state’s willingness to help refugees could not come “at the expense of the safety and security of our own people.”

Abbott has drawn at least one group protesting his letter. The “Syrian People Solidarity Group” posted a Facebook event announcing a protest scheduled for this Sunday outside the Governor’s Mansion. The purpose of the protest is “to demand that Governor Abbott not use Islamophobic rhetoric when talking about state policy and that refugees from all countries should be welcome here!”

Do the states have the legal authority?

It remains to be seen what pushback will come from the White House. This is, after all, the same Obama administration that sought to enact immigration reform through executive orders when he did not think Congress was moving quickly enough.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) acknowledged the potential legal limitations in his letter, sent to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). After writing that the Florida Department of Children and Families “will not support the requests we have received” to assist with the relocation of several hundred possible Syrian refugees within Florida, Scott noted that the feds still could fund the relocation of the Syrian refugees to Florida even without state support.

According to Kevin Appleby, the director of migration policy at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the largest refugee resettlement organization in America, the plenary powers granted under the U.S. Constitution and the 1980 Refugee Act means that the authority whether or not to admit refugees and where to place them lies within the scope of powers granted to the federal government. However, the states still have the ability to make the process far more expensive and arduous.

Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at American University, told CNN, “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…[but while] a state can’t say it is legally objecting, but it can refuse to cooperate, which makes things much more difficult.”

So, at least as far as the legal issues go, the states have the ability to cut funding for refugee resettlement efforts by their own state agencies, and to direct those agencies to not participate in taking in refugees, but they will need an act of Congress to cut off funding at the federal level, and the states most likely will not be able to block the feds from taking action themselves to bring in Syrian refugees.

The answer may be political

In this specific situation, the best bet is probably not for the states to argue a strictly legal case, but to seek to win the political argument. The negative fallout from Obamacare has decimated Democrats’ ranks at both the state and federal levels. Democrats have lost both the House and the Senate, dozens of Governors and Attorneys General, and hundreds and hundreds of state legislative seats.

With about half the states already stepping forward to say they do not want unvetted Syrian refugees and they will refuse to participate or fund any such efforts, this puts two types of political pressure on the Obama administration. First, with that many states refusing to fund the handling of any Syrian refugees, this becomes a more costly operation for the federal government to manage.

Second, with the 2016 elections rapidly approaching, and so many vulnerable Democrats on the ballot in the states whose Governors want to refuse Syrian refugees, it would not be surprising if Obama got pressure, both openly and behind the scenes, from members of his own party. It is noteworthy that the list of states participating includes both early primary states Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as swing states like Florida and Ohio.

This story is, once again, an illustration of the importance of local and state elections. The reason this issue is making news is due in no small part to the increased numbers of Governors who are Republicans. Local elections matter.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.


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Anybody remember this administration’s response to the ebola epidemic?

This country has a reservoir of people who had been involved in the HIV epidemic, who were familiar with the role of the CDC, and who had expectations for CDC documents, based on their experience.

Ebola was just one of the many potential viruses that had not yet made it to media attention, but were familiar to anybody with an HIV healthcare background. Another, for example, is dengue fever.

These people read the CDC website, and heard what the head of the CDC, as well as our US President had to say about what they would do, in light of the problem. They erupted because the official US response was not rationally related to the scope of the potential problem.

Meanwhile, the doctors and the vast majority of travelers from the affected regions voluntarily exercised their own quarantine, with the exception of an arrogant nurse and a man in Houston. The man in Houston died, but before he did, an alert daughter-in-law protected her family by insisting he go to the hospital a second time, keeping family away from him, and sanitizing the apartment where he was staying.

Ebola was known as a potential threat at least twenty years before it finally emerged. Nonetheless, it was dealt with properly by individuals, not our government.

With the same administration in place, and the same miserable record of ineptitude on so many other issues, the states are wise to stand up, now, and deal with the issue, because this administration does not mind allowing a few Americans to die for their sins.

    Good post, but would say that “ineptitude” does not describe this administration. He is willfully tearing this country down, just as he promised to do in his 2008 campaign… the “fundamental transformation” is now in full swing.

      Rick in reply to Paul. | November 17, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Exactly correct. I tire of pundits asking: Why would obama do this, or that? The answer is always clear and easy when one understands the obvious: obama wants to damage America and its world standing. Occam’s Razor applies.

      alicia in reply to Paul. | November 17, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      I would add that Obama is only the head of the spear. Democratic Party leadership and at least 30% of Democratic Party members fully support and help inform the president’s decisions and actions. And some of them are dissatisfied that he hasn’t gone far enough, so they support Sanders.

      Radegunda in reply to Paul. | November 17, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      Whenever he says (with stunning cynicism) “That’s not who WE are,” what he means is: “YOU are not a people or a country I respect, and so I’m forcibly transforming the country and importing people I like more.”

” It remains to be seen what pushback will come from the White House . . .”

This sentence is a marvel.

In a non-OrwellianWorld, common sense and national security would be a no-brainer.

But, we’re living in the Age of Barack, where our worst enemies have already infiltrated government, and are hellbent on fundamentally destroying America.

Sadly, stating the obvious, a White-Republican-President would be behind bars by now.

    Radegunda in reply to clafoutis. | November 17, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    It isn’t just here. The European ruling class also appears to be intent on (or at least okay with) gutting European civilization, and not just diluting particular nationalities.

    Here, even many of our “conservative” leaders are serving business interests that regard a nation as just a place on the map where they can set up shop and find customers.

    Paul Ryan recently said that his job was to put himself in other people’s shoes to understand their needs. He specified: 1. a man from India seeking a green card; 2. a “DREAMER” awaiting … [forgiveness for lawbreaking]. Somehow I was under the impression that we elected legislators to represent our own interests — not those of foreign nationals, least of all the ones who entered the country illegally. How could I be so mistaken?

I saw one Representative say that the president and the State Dept have the final say no matter what the governors say. I know they could fly them into any Federal military base in any state that has one and there is nothing the state could do about it. I am not sure about allowing them to then go into the state and reside. This is just more proof that obama simply doesn’t give a damn about what the people say or want. He is the closest thing to a dictator that the US has ever had.

    Milhouse in reply to inspectorudy. | November 17, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    What could you possibly be unsure about? Immigration into the USA is without any doubt a matter for the US government. There’s no need for federal bases. Once the feds give someone a visa they are free to enter the USA at any port, and go anywhere in the USA they like. No governor has any right to interfere in their movements. Nor can any governor deny them the same benefits that are available to anyone who moves into their state. How could any of this not be completely clear to you?

    The only thing governors can do is to refuse the federal request to spend state money on special programs to house them. But that money can easily be replaced either by federal money or by private donations, and there’s nothing any governor can do about that.

Is it legal? What a laugh.

Our governor has a phone and a pen just like our president.

    Milhouse in reply to georgfelis. | November 17, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    And what can he do with that phone or pen? He can’t close off his state’s borders, or prevent anyone from entering or leaving. Try it and federal troops will open the border by the next morning, and keep it open.

Is it legal? Let’s see…

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.” Article IV Section 4.

Yes. It’s not only legal. It’s a constitutional obligation.

    Milhouse in reply to Aucturian. | November 17, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    That clause means the exact opposite of your claim. It gives the president complete authority in this area, and thus removes it from the governors.

      …It gives the president complete authority in this area, and thus removes it from the governors…
      No he doesn’t.

      Check the language of the clause again. The United States…states, not imperial provinces, prefectures or satrapies…on application of the Legislature (Congress, being the elected representatives from those very States)…have an obligation to ensure the integrity and safety of their respective borders.

      It’s a provision and benefit of being a chartered members of the Union. No where in the language does it usurp the power of the governors nor is it a carte blanche for the executive. He only steps in last only when the Legislature can’t convene.

      It’s call checks and balance.

      This is a crystal clear example of why the 17th Amendment was a colossal mistake and should be repealed. Under the original structure of The Constitution, the Senate was a check/balance against Federal power for the States. Senators were appointed by the States and could be counted on to act in the interests of the States. Now they’re power-grubbing hogs gorging themselves at the federal trough, enriching themselves on insider trading and prostituting themselves for special interest groups.

      Article V Convention of the States, repeal the 17th Amendment.

Perhaps the states could pass a state tax on persons relocated into the state as a refugee from a foreign country by the federal government and list their country of origin on all state IDs. Imprison those who do not pay. Who cares if the Supremes rule against it years from now? Should be at least $10 grand per year as partial compensation for costs.

    Milhouse in reply to ray. | November 17, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    No, they can’t do this, and it wouldn’t take years to strike it down; it would be enjoined immediately.

I was amused by Obama’s insistence that it would be “un-American” to give preference to Christian and Yazidi Syrian refugees over Muslim Syrian refugees, just on the basis of their religious affiliation.

Because the U.S. government never, ever discriminates against one identity group in favor of another, right Barry?

Obama has spent his entire lifetime actively advocating for the creation and expansion of government programs that give special preferences and benefits to certain “disadvantaged” racial and ethnic groups. But somehow it’s wrong and “un-American” to give asylum preference to disadvantaged Christian and Yazidi Syrians, even though they are the groups of refugees most at risk of persecution, and even though they are the groups least likely to find safe refuge in another majority-Muslim country.

Maybe Obama would be more willing to accept granting preferences to Christian and Yazidi refugees if we re-named the program “Refugee Affirmative Action.”

    Radegunda in reply to Observer. | November 17, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    I’ve read some evidence that he’s actively disfavoring Christian refugees. He once literally turned his back on a Middle Eastern activist seeking help as soon as he heard the word “Christian.”

    He really is that vile.

      Vascaino in reply to Radegunda. | November 17, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      Here’s a link among many.

      Such “unfathomable mysteries” are reminiscent of the U.S. State Department’s habit of inviting Muslim representatives but denying visas to Christian representatives. Since the start of 2015, 4,205 Muslims have been admitted into the U.S. from Iraq, but only 727 Christians. For every one Christian the U.S. grants asylum, it grants asylum to five or six Muslims — even though Christians, as persecuted “infidel” minorities, are in much greater need of sanctuary, not to mention more assimilating to American culture than Muslims.

      Faith McDonnell, of the Institute on Religion & Democracy, said regarding the detainment of Iraqi Christians in San Diego:

      This follows the disturbing pattern that we have seen from the State Department of ignoring the particular targeting of Christians by ISIS while giving preferential treatment for asylum to other groups with expedited processing — like Somalis, Iraqis, and Syrians, some of whom could very well be members of jihadist movements.

      The fate of those Iraqi Christians who had fled from the Islamic State only to be incarcerated in the United States has finally been decided by the Obama administration: they are to be thrown back to the lions, where they will likely be persecuted, if not slaughtered, like so many Iraqi Christians before them.

      Fifteen of the 27 Iraqi Christians that have been held at a detention center in Otay Mesa, California, for approximately six months, are set to be deported in the coming weeks. Some have already been deported and others are being charged with immigration fraud.

      Many of the Iraqi Christian community in San Diego — including U.S. citizen family members vouching for the refugees — had hopes that they would eventually be released. Mark Arabo, a spokesman for the Chaldean community, had argued that “They’ve escaped hell. Let’s allow them to reunite with their families.” One of the detained women had begged to see her ailing mother before she died. The mother died before they could reunite, and now the daughter is to be deported, possibly back to the hell of the Islamic State.

      The blatant hypocrisy and bigoted behaviour is a disgrace that trashes 2000 years of progress to an ethical, secure and peaceful society.

Obama has one year left and nothing to lose. All the states who have said they won’t accept Syrian refugees will get them all the same. He will order them brought in through military bases if necessary. Federal agents will see that they are settled into the surrounding counties. Obama will not stop. This is his last year. Time to secure his legacy.

    Rick in reply to JohnC. | November 17, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    While the next year will be wild and lawless ride under obama, he will be free at last to maximize damage to the US after the November 2016 elections.

    Milhouse in reply to JohnC. | November 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Why would he use federal bases? Once someone is in the USA they have the right to go wherever they like.

      Shipping them into the country and them dropping them off on Main Street with a hearty “good luck, bye!” isn’t an option, especially after the MSM went after Trump recently by demonizing his reference to “Operation Wetback”, flogging the inhumanity of simply dumping deported illegal aliens back into Mexico without ensuring they had a place to stay or means to get there.

      So yes, the Administration is in a bind if it has the “refugees” but can’t find enough places willing to actually accept them. It’s not like all the “refugees” arrive with Gold Amex cards and can get their own lodgings and room service at any nearby Ramada Inn.

Connivin Caniff | November 17, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Would you pay Russian Roulette? Then why play Syrian Roulette? Keep them all out.

    Let’s remember, though, that the exact same argument was used to keep out Jewish refugees from Hitler. And yes, there undoubtedly were German agents among them; it wasn’t a myth, but as we now recognise it was not a valid reason for closing our doors to the genuine refugees.

Connivin Caniff | November 17, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Whoops. “play”

The Tsarnaev brothers were refugees too

The states can transport all of the Syrian refugees to Washington D.C. or to the states that are not objecting.

    Milhouse in reply to TX-rifraph. | November 17, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    No, they can’t. Any governor who ordered this, and any state officer who attempted to obey the order, would immediately be arrested for kidnapping.

      Who said it would be involuntary?

      They could offer the local refugees big cash bonuses and all-expenses-paid luxury bus rides to the sanctuary city of their choice.

      Bigger bonuses and a free pocketknife if they choose Washington DC.

“Islamophobic rhetoric”–Really?

How about “Death to America” rhetoric?
How about Anti-Christian rhetoric?
How about Anti-Israel and Anti-Jewish rhetoric?

Perhaps the terrorists and murders pretending to be refugees will self-identify so we can show we are just against becoming victims and not “Islamophobic.”

I will hold my breath while I am being thankful for the 2nd Amendment.

There is Hope and Change in the air: “Susan Rice said during an interview that officials in the Obama administration would “die trying” to close Guantanamo Bay prison,…”

It took BarryHO only two days after the Paris attacks to release terrorists from GITMO.

Keep them all in D.C. Set up temporary shelters all around the city. It is the safest place for these poor displaced people because D.C. has strict gun control laws. They don’t have to worry about some drunk redneck shooting at beer cans hurting someone by mistake.

Don’t put these peace loving Muslims out in the wild uncontrolled parts of this country with all the armed Jesus loving H8TERS roaming around just looking for someone to shoot.

Safety for Syrians #terroristlivesmatter.

Texas is already awash with refugees from Democrat high tax and spend states, not to mention the influx of refugees from the Latin countries with their left leaning views on government. All we need are Islam refugees who may or may not have jihadist leanings.
What is wrong with these refugees going to a country that already has a large Islamic population ? Why are they not welcome there ?
Do they know something the American Democrat leader doesn’t.
Since he know it all, I find that hard to believe.

The Federal Government reigns supreme on matters of immigration — ask any Sanctuary City.


Snyder in Michigan is your basic liberal lite. Our choices for governor were between s*it and shinola.