Can Governors Legally Block Syrian Refugees? Probably Not

In the wake of deadly terror attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people, more than half of America's governors are now expressing some degree of opposition to the Obama administration's plans to relocate thousands of Syrian refugees to their states, NBC News reported. 

But despite the hue and cry of at least 31 governors who are either opposing, refusing, or suspending the resettlement of Syrian refugees into their state — either permanently or until after a security review — the Obama administration has said it views such decisions as a federal matter.

"This is a federal program carried out under authority of federal law…and refugees arriving in the U.S. are protected by constitution and federal law," a State Department official told reporters on Tuesday. The refugees "are required to apply for legal status within year" and are "free to move anywhere in the country."

And legal precedent might be on the administration's side, legal experts say.

"I think the chance that the governors' position will be legally sustained will be extremely low," said Harold Koh, a former dean of the Yale Law School and a former legal adviser to the State Department under the Obama administration.

President Obama, speaking at the conclusion of the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey on Monday, made the case that "slamming the doors in their faces would be a betrayal of our values."
 

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