Presently, more than one-half of United States governors – 27 as of now – say they are opposed to allowing Syrian refugees into their states, although the federal government will have the ultimate final say on this highly contentious immigration issue.
The announcements by the states came after authorities reported that at least one of the suspects in terrorist attacks in Paris entered Europe by riding along with the massive wave of refugees from Syria.
Many state leaders say they either oppose taking in any Syrian refugees as part of a national agenda altogether or at least demand that the refugees undergo heightened scrutiny as potential threats to the nation.
The Obama administration announced this fall that the United States would accept 10,000 Syrians in 2016.
American University law professor Stephen I. Vladeck described the faceoff between more than one-half of this country’s states and Obama: “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.” However, Vladeck did note that without a state’s participation, the federal government would have a much more difficult task.
He added that, “So a state can’t say it is legally objecting, but it can refuse to cooperate, which makes thing much more difficult.”
The governors of the states who strongly oppose accepting Syrian refugees at this time sent letters to the president and used the media to get their message out. As just one example, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared that his state would not accept Syrian refugees and tweeted yesterday on his personal account that, “I demand the U.S. act similarly. Security comes first.”
In his letter to Obama, Abbott wrote, “American humanitarian compassion could be exploited to expose Americans to similar deadly danger,” referring to the Paris terrorist attacks.
The list of states blocking refugees continues to grow. But, at least one state announced that it plans to cooperate with the federal government and accept refugees.
Delaware Governor Jack Markell said in a statement that, “It is unfortunate that anyone would use the tragic events in Paris to send a message that we do not understand the plight of these refugees, ignoring the fact that the people we are talking about are fleeing the perpetrators of terror.”
And, not to be left out of the conversation, Republican candidate Donald Trump described Obama’s plan of accepting Syrian refugees as “insane.”
He told a large audience in Texas that, “We all have heart and we all want people taken care of, but with the problems our country has, to take in 250,000 – some of whom are going to have problems, big problems – is just insane. We have to be insane. Terrible.”
Obviously, Obama disagrees with over one-half of the country and will likely impose his own personal beliefs despite the major dispute.
While addressing reporters on Monday, Obama stated that, “When I hear a political leader suggesting that there should be a religious test for which a person who is fleeing from a war torn country is admitted . . . when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that is shameful. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
On “Meet the Press,” White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said that, “We have very extensive screening procedures for all Syrian refugees who have come to the United States. There is a very careful vetting process that includes our intelligence community, our National Counter-Terrorism Center, the Department of Homeland Security, so we can make sure that we are carefully screening anybody that comes to the United States.”
However, New York Representative Peter King cast disbelief on Rhodes’ comments.
He told Fox News that, “What he said about the vetting of the refugees is untrue. There is virtually no vetting cause there are no databases in Syria, there are no government records. We don’t know who these people are.”