More than half the nation’s governors say they oppose letting Syrian refugees into their states, although the final say on this contentious immigration issue will fall to the federal government. States protesting the admission of refugees range from Alabama and Georgia, to Texas and Arizona, to Michigan and Illinois, to Maine and New Hampshire. Among these 31 states, all but one have Republican governors.
One Democratic Governor, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, also urged the Obama administration to stop taking in Syrians until the federal vetting procedures for all refugees are “as strong as possible”. In announcing that his state would not accept any Syrian refugees, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted Monday on his personal account, “I demand the U.S. act similarly,” he said. “Security comes first.” The governors’ legal standing was quickly challenged by immigration groups and some Democrats, and Mr. Obama said the resettlement of refugees would go forward next year. The State Department said it had not reached a conclusion about whether states could legally refuse them
Here in Maine, Governor Paul Lepage announced that he would join with those governors in condemning Syrians coming to Maine because “at least one of the attackers in Paris was a Syrian refugee.” “The safety of Maine citizens comes first, and it is about time the United States and Europe wake up to the nature of the threat against us in the form of radical terrorism.” Lepage announced.
Only 1,500 Syrian refugees have been accepted into the United States since 2011, but the Obama administration announced in September that 10,000 Syrians will be allowed entry next year. American University law professor Stephen I. Vladeck put it this way: “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 Vladeck noted that without the state’s participation, the federal government would have a much more arduous task.