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Ducey wants to block Syrian refugees from Arizona

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Ducey wants to block Syrian refugees from Arizona

  • Ducey speaks at a ground-breaking ceremony in Tucson in March.
    Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.comDucey speaks at a ground-breaking ceremony in Tucson in March.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks that killed more than 120 people in Paris on Friday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants to bar refugees from the war-stricken nation of Syria from entering the state. Other state governors have also announced such moves, but critics have pointed out that their powers over immigration matters are limited.

"Given the horrifying events in Paris last week, I am calling for an immediate halt in the placement of any new refugees in Arizona," Ducey said.

Ducey joins about a dozen GOP colleagues in announcing that they don't want Syrian refugees resettled in their states. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are among those who've called on their state governments to take steps to block refugees from the Middle Eastern country that's been torn apart by years of civil war.

The Islamic State claimed it was behind the attacks in the French capital that killed 129 people and injured more than 400. ISIS is waging a civil war against the Assad regime in Syria while also fighting other Syrian rebels, as well as the Iraqi government and Kurds in both countries.

Critics of the GOP governors' moves have noted that while state governments can refuse to cooperate in assisting refugees, that "the supremacy of the national power in the general field of foreign affairs, including power over immigration, naturalization and deportation, is made clear by the Constitution," as the Supreme Court found in Hines v. Davidowitz.

While hundreds of thousands have recently fled Syria for Europe, and millions more have been displaced into Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon, the U.S. State Department has plans to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.

President Barack Obama, speaking at a G-20 meeting in Turkey, called "shameful" suggestions from some political leaders that refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. be given a religious test.

GOP presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush have said the U.S. should focus on helping refugees who are Christian.

"That's not American," Obama said. "That's not who we are. We do not have religious tests to our compassion."

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley have called for the number of refugees admitted to be increased to 65,000.

Ducey did not go as far as Jindal, who signed an executive order instructing Louisiana officials to "take all available steps" to halt the settlement of Syrian refugees in the state.

"I am invoking our state’s right under 8 USC, Section 1522 (a), 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," Ducey said.

"I also call on Congress and the president to immediately amend federal law to provide states greater oversight and authority in the administration of the placement of refugees," the Republican governor said in a news release. "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."

Refugees are screened by multiple federal agencies, including the State Department, Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. For many, it can take years between applying for asylum and being admitted to the United States.

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