Following the recent Paris bombings conducted by ISIL, President Barack Obama reaffirmed his decision to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States in 2016. Following President Obama’s statement, over a dozen governors stated that they would not allow refugees into their states, including Rick Scott of Florida and Rick Snyder of Michigan, both republicans.
Of all the governors, only Scott seems to be aware that it isn’t up to him whether or nor refugees are settled in his state, that power rests squarely with the federal government, as determined by the Constitution, and as has been held up in court several times. Provided the other governors knew this, it is unknown how they expect to prevent the federal government from acting on its powers.
Governors who decide to force the issue and bar refugees from their states will face obvious legal problems. But there are other, sneakier ways these state governments could refuse to help refugees. Namely, they could refuse to pass on funds allocated to them, or to refugee organizations, or they could refuse public services to them. In any of these cases though, they would be subject to legal prosecution by the federal government, and the law is clearly on the side of the feds, as power of the status of aliens, including immigration and deportation, belongs solely to the federal government.
There’s also nothing to keep refugees from moving to different areas once settled here, like to Michigan, which already has a large Syrian population, and will likely be a destination for many refugees wishing to join families already in America. Most likely though, this is simply an example of political saber rattling, as these governors use this opportunity to thumb their noses at the president in the face of an upcoming presidential election.