Monday, November 16, 2015

Ducey May Not Want to Accept New Syrian Refugees—But Does He Have That Authority?

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2015 at 1:19 PM

Given that at least one of the suspects involved in the massacre in Paris on Friday snuck into the country posing as a Syrian refugee, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey—and more than half a dozen more around the country, including Texas and Louisiana—announced today that he won't accept any new refugees to be resettled in the state.

But, according to the Center for American Progress, a public policy research and advocacy organization, Ducey and all others don't have the lawful means to prevent that from happening, much less tell President Obama what to do when it comes to federal immigration policies.

In a statement to the media, Ducey said he is invoking the state's constitutional right to "receive immediate consultation by federal authorities per the United States Refugee Act, and that the federal government take into account the concerns and recommendations of the state of Arizona as they are required to under federal law, in our efforts to keep our homeland safe."

He also called on Congress and President Obama to "immediately amend federal law to provide states greater oversight and authority in the administration of the placement of refugees. These acts serve as a reminder that the world remains at war with radical Islamic terrorists. Our national leaders must react with the urgency and leadership that every American expects to protect our citizens."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed a letter to Obama that said Texas won't accept any Syrian refugees, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, issued an executive order dictating all "departments, budget units, agencies, offices, entities, and officers of the executive branch of the State of Louisiana” to “utilize all lawful means to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the State of Louisiana while this Order is in effect," according to CAP.

The organization says that states "do not get to overrule the federal government on matters such as this one."

From CAP:
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.
The power to admit refugees is a "broad discretion exercised by immigration officials," which the Supreme Court recognized in its most recent immigration case, Arizona v. United States (which dealt with SB 1070), CAP said:
Indeed, in describing the executive branch’s broad authority to make discretionary calls regarding immigration matters, Arizona seemed to explicitly contemplate the circumstances that face President Obama today. The United States may wish to allow a foreign national to remain within its borders, the Court explained, because the individual’s home nation “may be mired in civil war, complicit in political persecution, or enduring conditions that create a real risk that the alien or his family will be harmed upon return.”

Moreover, the Court explained, America could suffer severe foreign policy consequences if the executive does not enjoy broad discretion over immigration matters. “The dynamic nature of relations with other countries,” Justice Anthony Kennedy explained in his opinion for the Court in Arizona, “requires the Executive Branch to ensure that enforcement policies are consistent with this Nation’s foreign policy with respect to these and other realities.”
Also, there is a close tie between immigration and foreign relations, and for that reason, immigration policy should be set by the federal government not by 50 different state governors, "because the entire United States can suffer when a foreign nation reacts adversely to our treatment of immigrants," CAP said. 

States have the power to deny their own resources to the feds, potentially making more difficult for refugees to resettle. "Nevertheless, an act of Congress — the Refugee Act of 1980 — has given Obama broad discretion to allow refugees to be admitted into the United States. The states of Texas, Louisiana and others must yield to that act."

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