The White House sent out a stern warning to states about the refugee battle, saying governors don’t have the power to block the federal government from resettling the migrants and attempts to do so could lead to punitive action.
But the warning didn’t go over well with Republicans. At least one, Virginia’s Rep. Bob Goodlatte, slammed the White House for being “hypocritical” for demanding states obey federal wishes while at the same time ignoring immigration law.
The White House warning came via a two–page letter from the Office of Refugee Resettlement signed by director Robert Carey, and was first reported by the Houston Chronicle. And it sets the stage for a dramatic Tenth Amendment showdown, pitting states’ rights against the federal government at a time when immigration – underscored by recent terror attacks in France – has moved to top of the list among voter concerns.
The letter read, in part: “States may not deny [Office of Refugee Resettlement)–funded benefits and services to refugees based on a refugee’s country of origin or religious affiliation. Accordingly, states may not categorically deny ORR–funded benefits and services to Syrian refugees.”
Carey goes on to say those states that fail to comply with the federal government would be perceived as law–breakers and “could be subject to enforcement action, including suspension or termination,” the Houston Chronicle reported.
The warning comes as two dozen or so governors from mostly Republican–led states have made clear they’re not accepting any of the thousands of Syrian refugees the Obama administration is welcoming into the country, expressing concerns for the safety and security of American citizens. The ACLU has already launched a lawsuit against one state, Indiana, for blocking refugees, as WND previously reported.
The White House, meanwhile, has characterized such resistance as un–American, and assured these refugees would be subjected to the necessary vetting. Carey, in his letter, underscored that point.
“[Refugees] are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States,” he wrote, the Express reported. “[Screening] is multi–layered and intensive.”
Texas, one of the states fighting the refugees’ resettlement, isn’t caving.
Bryan Black, a spokesman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the agency that oversees refugee resettlement in the state, said he will continue to abide the previous instructions of Gov. Greg Abbott – and that was to withdraw Texas from participation in the resettlement process.
Abbott had previously sent Obama a letter, saying “American humanitarian compassion could be exploited [by terrorists] to expose Americans to … deadly danger.”
The Associated Press reported states standing in opposition to the federal government on the refugee matter could face termination of participation, and funding, in the ORR program.
Goodlatte, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, had this to say about the matter, Fox News reported: “While the United States has the most generous refugee system in the world, the American people are rightly concerned about admitting Syrian refugees and the impact it would have on the safety of their families and neighbors. … It’s hypocritical for Obama administration officials to threaten enforcement action against these states when they refuse to enforce the vast majority of our immigration laws, such as cracking down on sanctuary cities that openly defy federal law and endanger the American people.”