DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Tuesday in Columbus, the Ohio House voted to urge President Obama to stop the settlement of Syrian refugees in Ohio and in the U.S.
This comes amid concerns that terrorists are posing as refugees to gain access and security checks, such as what happened the Friday attacks in Paris, France, in places that are insufficient to catch them.
Republican leadership introduced the resolution, citing safety concerns.
But immigrant rights groups argue states don’t have the authority to block resettlement.
Congressman Mike Turner (R- 10th District) and Governor John Kasich (R) say we should close our doors, but Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (D) is still willing to host refugees.
But Ohioans are left asking who really has the authority to make that decision?
2 NEWS Reporter Beairshelle Edme found that answer in the laws outlined in the Refugee Act of 1980.
But Governor John Kasich hinted at the answer himself in a press conference Tuesday.
“All we can do is– I’ve urged, written to the president, I’ve written to the Congress,” he said. “We just have to have a system that can determine who these people are.”
Kasich can send letter, but can’t enact or act upon his declaration to refuse Syrian refugees.
The federal government has the power in this matter. The State Department, President Barack Obama and Congress each have some authority over refugee resettlement.
Governors or mayors cannot make any decision on immigration policy, and that includes refugees.
Federal authorities don’t work directly with these local and state officials; they often work with private organizations and churches on getting these refugees settled into various U.S. cities.
University of Dayton Professor and Director of Human Rights Research Mark Ensalaco says the law is the law.
Ensalaco explains that federal officials don’t make a decision on refugee resettlement without assessing whether a city, like Dayton for example, can handle it.
“We have the ability (with) Catholic Social Services right across the river here– (we have) the ability to resettle,” he said. “We’re not talking about the massive influx of refugees like we see in Europe, so if they could be properly vetted this city (Dayton) could welcome them and benefit from them.”
The political expert says while the declarations of state and local officials will not be the final say, they may be taken into consideration by federal authorities.
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