Can State Governors Lawfully Reject Syrian Refugees?

At least 26 governors now oppose letting Syrian refugees resettle in their states.


In the wake of Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris, the governors of at least 26 U.S. states have declared themselves in opposition to the resettlement of Syrian refugees within their respective state borders. In the words of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R), "I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. As your Governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm's way."

Is this mere political grandstanding, or do Bentley and his fellow governors actually possess the lawful power to keep Syrian refugees—or any other class of legally admitted aliens—out of their respective states?

The U.S. Supreme Court provided an answer to these questions in its 1915 decision in Truax v. Raich. At issue was the constitutionality of an Arizona law designed to prevent unwelcome foreigners from settling in that state by denying them the ability to secure meaningful employment. Under the terms of Arizona's "act to protect the citizens of the United States in their employment against non-citizens of the United States, in Arizona," all businesses with more than five employees were required to maintain a workforce that was comprised of at least 80 percent "qualified electors or native-born citizens." As a direct result of this legislation, an Austrian-born cook named Mike Raich lost his job. Raich filed suit and eventually wound up before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court sided with Raich and struck down the nativist state action. "The assertion of an authority to deny to aliens the opportunity of earning a livelihood when lawfully admitted to the State would be tantamount to the assertion of the right to deny them entrance and abode, for in ordinary cases they cannot live where they cannot work," the Court declared. "And, if such a policy were permissible, the practical result would be that those lawfully admitted to the country under the authority of the acts of Congress, instead of enjoying in a substantial sense and in their full scope the privileges conferred by the admission, would be segregated in such of the States as chose to offer hospitality."

Put differently, Congress possesses the constitutional power to regulate the admission of aliens to the United States. Once an alien has been lawfully admitted under federal law, no state may "deny them entrance and abode." That standard plainly covers the treatment of Syrian refugees that have been lawfully admitted to the United States.

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  1. But they could just refuse to let them on the welfare.

    1. They can also refuse to house them – which is part of the deal.

      1. no state may “deny them entrance and abode.”

        So, if the faith-based organizations won’t house them the state must scrounge up a ghetto.

        1. There is a gulf of difference between deny and provide abode.

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        2. And take turns sharing Nick’s jacket.

    2. That would do nothing to keep church groups and other NGOs from providing them housing and food.

      1. Sure, that would be fine.

        1. Except that these NGO Refugee Resettlement Agencies get 95%+ of all their funds from the Federal government.

          1. Yeah, they are government contractors not charities.

          2. I was using “NGO” in the literal sense to mean any non-governmental organization. Wasn’t aware there was a resettlement industry.

            1. Find me an NGO that is actually doesn’t use taxpayer money?

              1. Churches. I wish I’d have simply written “churches” above and left it at that. I didn’t realize that NGO has as specific a meaning as it appears to.

                1. Why don’t the mosque’s take care of them.

            2. Why else do you think Reason is so gung ho for this expansion of the state, if not because it is another Democrat party cottage industry?

    3. Just send them all to Cytotoxic’s neighborhood. He promises they will assimilate just fine.

      1. I think most of them would rather have stayed in Syria than have to live in a trailer park outside of Saskatoon with Cytotoxic and his termagant mother.

        1. Wait, he’s a Tyranid?

          That explains so much!

      2. Toxie is Canuckistani.

        1. He claims to be from Calgary, so between Trudeau, Notley and Nenshi, he’ll probably get his wish and have a few thousand strapping young Syrian males in his neighborhood by February.

          1. A new Calgary Stampede.

            What fun!

            1. Now with Halal slaughter in the stampede stadium!

      3. Go ahead. You don’t see as much pants shitting up here over teh foreignerz.

        1. Well, duh, Toxie. That’s because you’re all furriners.

        2. So THAT explains it!!!

          I was wondering how you could be so full of shit!

        3. You’re the staging ground for baddies to attack us. And when we’re gone, guess who’s next?

        4. No kidding? And in a country that’s 80% white/European ethnicity. Huh.

    4. Or we could simply send aid to them where they are already in refugee camps in Turkey. They have safe places to go already. They are leaving there in part to invade europe and to get the europeans to pay for the invasion. The rest are just going for the better handouts.

      This whole situation is insane.

      1. You clearly have no idea what a real invasion looks like.

        1. Or, maybe he does, and you don’t?

        2. This could be what an invasion looks like. Sorry, don’t know the fancy way to imbed the link.


        3. I do. I’ve been in one.

    5. OT, Operating Thetan, Post?

      Which is bigger, an alien megastructure?…..151014.htm

      Or Charlie Sheen’s mega-ego?…..ive-t56391 …

  2. How is that 1915 case not superseded by the Refugee Act of 1980? Which says the Feds are supposed to cooperate with the States and listen to their recommendations – not shove tens of thousands of unwanted refugees down their throats?…..efugee-act

    1. With respect to the location of placement of refugees within a State, the Federal agency administering subsection (b)(1) shall, consistent with such policies and strategies and to the maximum extent possible, take into account recommendations of the State.

      That’s pretty weak tea, Drake. We all know what that language means to the feds.

      1. I agree – but if the Feds push hard enough on those states that it ends up in court, the case will be decided on this law, not the old one.

        It would also be a public relations disaster for the Administration and Democrats in general during an election year.

        1. And the states will declare the Refugee Act of 1980 to be both a penalty and a tax at the same time.

          1. It’s a dessert topping AND a floor wax!

      2. “within” a state. this is where the lawyers earn their fee.

        1. Most states have lakes.

  3. What can federal government do anyway. I’ve figured lately that the only reduction in federal government won’t come from voters electing small government politicians, it will come from a state at some point telling the Feds to fuck off.

    They could threaten to cut money off or whatever but with a state like Texas it would get so messy I think the Feds lose. The American people don’t have the stomach for a domestic war, the Feds would just posture then compromise, and maybe even consider states wishes.

    1. You are right, but it would have to have a very determined governor with the support of a supermajority of the state legislature for that to even be considered. And that’s a lot of money for roads, welfare and schools that the state would have to come up with.

      1. A lot of that would be offset by refusing to pay Federal taxes.

        1. You would have blood in the streets and the National Guard called out before that occurred. Governments aren’t in the business of letting their taxpayers slip peacefully away due to debates about federalism.

          I could see state govs staking out their turf on a less pivotal position for the feds, say federal gun control or something else that’s unlikely to reduce their opportunities for pelf.

          1. The National guard works for the states. And I cant see any way you are going to get soldiers to fire on the populace today. If a state like Texas (for example) threatened to secede it would have under its control a sizeable portion of the US military with a half dozen of the largest bases and a large portion of the military being loyal to Texas.

            All federal money comes from the taxpayers, cutting out the middle man should result in better economies being able to collect more taxes then if the fed distributes it.

            The biggest issue would probably be boycotts or embargo’s and things of that nature.

            1. The National Guards work for the states, until they are nationalized by the president, then they become part of the US Army (etc). So let’s say the governor calls up his National Guard and orders them to seal the borders. The president Nationalizes the state guard and tells them to stand down. That creates an untenable situation for the guard commander: treason, mutiny or suicide.

              1. That creates an untenable situation for the guard commander: treason, mutiny or suicide.

                Who selects the guard commander?

            2. It is also unclear how Texas-based US troops would respond. Many of them have no specific loyalty to Texas.

              1. I still don’t see combat as a likely in that scenario.

          2. There’s a reason oppressive governments don’t like calling in the army for their dirty work. Backfired horribly in Egypt-the army ended up ousting the regime!

        2. The states don’t pay taxes; persons (incl corporations) do.

          1. Corporations don’t pay taxes either. Only shareholders, employees, and customers play taxes.

          2. Corporations don’t pay taxes, they collect taxes.

            1. Point being, states can’t deny FEDGOV tax money, there isn’t any direct payment to it.
              Proggies have set things up that way.

      2. Gas tax – state law: sellers of gasoline shall remit federal gas tax to the state government – this would be beneficial to a number of states in that they will be assured that the user fees collected in state are used in state instead of funneled off to other states for bridges to nowhere and choo choos.

        Schools – federal mandates cost more to implement than the money they provide so losing the federal monies would likely be a boon

        Federal welfare funding to the states is the hardest to replace, but the reduction of benefits is likely to prod the recipients to be productive

        1. Gas tax – thanks. I was unaware how that worked.

          1. Thats not how it works now.

            Thats one way States could try to get around it.

    2. They could threaten to cut money off or whatever but with a state like Texas it would get so messy I think the Feds lose.

      That’s because Texas takes in more FedGov money than it pays. All the southern states are essentially welfare queens.

      There are plenty of states that pay more to FedGov than they get back. If Illinois or Michigan got cut off from FedGov dollars, those states would just refuse to pay FedGov in the first place and would come out ahead. Such states would probably have to severely cut back their welfare programs, which would put a lot of their poorer citizens up in arms. And then when you tell them “you can only get your welfare back if you take Muslim refugees into your neighborhood” most of those citizens will suddenly be in favor of self-sufficiency.

      1. The citizens of a state pay taxes to FEDGOV. Thus a state cannot deny the funds to the feds, unless they can, somehow, get their citizens to not pay, and run the risk of the IRS going after them.

        1. It would be so much easier of all tax money went to the state government, who would then forward the fed’s portion.

    3. The executive branch has zero authority to do this in the first place. Those powers rest with the congress.

  4. It is the job of the Federal Government to import suicide bombers. Resistance is futile.

  5. If Washington won’t do what it takes to keep the U.S. as safe as possible, then the governors’ will. Once again, an overreaching federal government?

  6. Am I the only one who thought of this movie with regards to this story?

    1. Dang. I missed the First. Was it a good movie?

      1. It’s got James Coburn’s picture on the case.

      2. It’s a crummy direct-to-video-and-late-night-90’s-cable film. If you absolutely must have a Dennis Leary or Phil Hartmann fix or you’re into Black Helicopter conspiracy theories, I guess it’s okay. I mean, the premise is kinda absurd but it’s an intriguing story.

  7. Nothing must stand in the way of the Federal Government “Invade the World, Invite the World’ policy.

    1. “Wah don’t let the brown people touch me!”

      1. Wah, brown people need white people to take care of them.

      2. They don’t WANT to touch YOU!! yuck!

  8. Obviously the solution is to house them in China’s “ghost cities”.

    1. Ha! China seems content to sit back and let the west and Russia handle this. Can’t say as I blame them since it’s not their problem.

      1. China had and has got problems with the Uyghur and Hui peoples just as Europe and Russia have their own similar regions.

        The difference being that the particular region of China A) isn’t as welcoming of them (esp. Tibetans) and B) isn’t as desirable/developed a destination.

        If anything, it’s not committing to anything because punching down is a sign of weakness.

  9. Clearly, more immigration of all sorts is exactly what the US needs RIGHT NOW.

    Cytotoxic told me so, so must be true, eh?

    Yeah, I KNOW “no immigrants have done anything bad EVAR” and blah blah blah blah.

    And I’m sure a few hundred thousand or a million of the world’s neediest are JUST what the doctor ordered! Now that I’m assured I won’t live with the consequences (at least not very long), I’ll enjoy my popcorn and the shit show.

    1. Yup. America needs everyone it can get.

        1. Make the streets look more populated. Forests are pretty empty, too.

      1. How the hell would you know? You figure that out all by yourself from your trailer park outside Saketchawan? With your flapping head, and your beady eyes, and your obsession with sodomy?

  10. How absurd that anyone could think these governors have the right to just keep people out. Have fun being remembered in the same light and sharing the same political fate as Bullhorn Connor.

    1. Hey Cyto, don’t you have your OWN government to fuck up? Why exactly are you here?

      1. I fuck up EVERYTHING.

    2. As your country is dangerously underpopulated and nearly empty, let’s send them up to live near you.

  11. “Put differently, Congress possesses the constitutional power to regulate the admission of aliens to the United States”…not according to the article by Judge Napolitano published by Reason and the scholarship of other libertarians. The Constitution only grants Congress the power over rules of naturalization. IOW, The founders did not want states selling citizenships like some Caribbean tax shelter nation, or denying unilaterally citizenship to any one group of people (maybe freed slaves?)…the entire Federal control of immigration came about in the late nineteenth century by an activist Supreme Court after the Chinese Exclusion Acts were passed (r u there Damon?). Perhaps refugees are different than ordinary immigrants, but if you want to be constitutionally consistent, you should not be making these kinds of loose statements about federal control of immigration. Why not argue for decentralization and privatization of immigration, which should be the libertarian model?

    1. You are correct. Immigration and naturalization = two different things. As are “friendly aliens” and “unfirendly aliens”, which are concepts utterly foreign to modern ‘murca, but relevant when some old document was written and states were sovereign (including regarding “immigration”).

      That’s OK – Ima let Cytotoxic and Hugh sort it all out. I have zero ability to influence any of this, so fuck it.

      1. ” Ima let Cytotoxic and Hugh sort it all out.”

        Best to just leave it with me.

        Yeah, the fedgov does not have the power to regulate immigration. Doesn’t mean states should either.

    2. So congress enacts policy restricting the naturalization of Syrian nationals, and fat chicks. Problem solved.

  12. Yeah, and the last few times we tried to do something about ‘unfriendly aliens’ the federal government locked up a bunch of Japanese Americans.

    Quite frankly, I trust our ability to deal, unhindered, with a handful of bomb throwers than I trust the federal government to be able to tell the difference between a ‘friendly’ and ‘unfriendly’ alien.

    Doubly so since half the reason this damn mess exists in the first place is because we bombed the shit out of the last group of unfriendlies and they got replaced by an even unfriendlier group.

    1. “Yeah, and the last few times we tried to do something about ‘unfriendly aliens’ the federal government locked up a bunch of Japanese Americans.

      Quite frankly, I trust our ability to deal, unhindered, with a handful of bomb throwers than I trust the federal government to be able to tell the difference between a ‘friendly’ and ‘unfriendly’ alien.”


      “Doubly so since half the reason this damn mess exists in the first place is because we bombed the shit out of the last group of unfriendlies and they got replaced by an even unfriendlier group.”

      Not true. America never bombed Syria before it’s rebellion.

      1. Please learn and use html tags, Toxie.

        1. I used to use the italics but the quote marks are more aesthetically pleasing.

    2. Completely disagree with your last mind-reading sentence. That is not the motivations they publicly state.

  13. so congress can stop the refugees from being allowed here if they chose to do so.

    1. Not constitutionally.

      1. Commerce clause, dude. It covers everything.

        1. Well, no. It’d be commerce, but then be human trafficking, which, of course, means it is sex trafficking. That happens when two broad ones collide.

  14. There are at least six or seen states what want refugees, Penn, Maryland, Colorado, etc., including DC. I say send all of them to the states what want them. Then everyone will be happy.

    1. DC – LOL. DC government can barely issue a parking ticket without congressional approval. NTTAWWT. But it will be interesting to see how Congress micromanages this.

    2. I propose a compromise that should satisfy the pro-and-anti-immigration sides.

      The USG can import as many as they think they can support – but they all have to live inside the capitol.

  15. Syrian food is delicious. Reason enough to let more of them in.

  16. From Mark Kirkorian:

    The paid agents of the State Department ? the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (52 percent taxpayer-funded), Church World Service (57 percent taxpayer-funded), World Relief (70 percent taxpayer-funded), Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services (92 percent taxpayer-funded), and others ? decide on their own, in secret, where they will send the refugees they’re paid to “sponsor,” whether the local schools and other institutions can handle them or not. I use scare quotes because sponsoring a refugee does not mean what you think it does ? it consists of little more than signing the refugees up for welfare and then moving on to the next revenue-generating warm body (the agencies are paid by the head).

    Read more at:…..e-industry

    1. Of the Center for Immigration Studies, a member of the John Tanton network. Got a source that’s not affiliated with John Tanton?

  17. Send the refugees to Detroit instead.

    1. What is going to keep them in Detroit?

    2. Michigan is slated for a little over 3000 of the projected 10,000 ‘refugees.’

      Dearborn will soon be Little Latakia.

  18. This works the other way around, in principle. Federal decisions to allow immigration can impact the states’ jurisdiction. To the extent that, for example, security (police power) is impacted, there would be limits to such federal decisions.

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  20. today is the day reason throws states rights under the bus. just admit it you guys are closet hilary voters.

    1. Why should today be different than any other day?

  21. They can’t deny the Muslim invaders entry to their states once the Jihadist Fellow Travelers let them in, but they can refuse to provide any form of state cooperation such as welfare assistance (which they shouldn’t get anyway). And they should.

  22. I’ll bet they can, unless His Highness wishes to locate them on military reservations, without the ability to leave except under escort of Federal Officers.

  23. of course, the root question is this: under what law or set of them will these be admitted, and to what standards will the “vetting” of them be held?

    Further, WHO will support them? Will they immediately become financial burdens on the host states? The SCOTUS case cited had one very different characteristic about it: the basic issue was employment. From what I”ve read so far, these “refugees” will simply be transported to these selected locations and released….. much like the illegal invaders across our southern border have been of late.

    IF these people are brought here, the rules in place at the time of their admission MUST be carefully followed….. and, purely because of their proposed large numbers, this will NOT happen. Thus this case will not rule.. “lawfully admitted” means something. The Austrian man in Truax had been lawfully admitted, and was earning his own living until state law changed his ability to be employed and he lost that job. The issue of whether he could have worked elsewhere was not mentioned.
    Let us not fail to compare green apples to green apples, and not to bananas.

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    This is wha- I do…… ??????

  25. since the Federal government can overthrow state laws or governors as whim, reason should have no problem with the feds over throwing all state level MJ legalization right?

  26. Well yes it’s legal. These governors are only doing what’s in best interest for their constituents. Most of refugees are Muslim men who favor collectivist authoritarian Sharia Law. I for one don’t want that totalitarian system coming here.

  27. “… those lawfully admitted to the country under the authority of the acts of Congress…”

    And Congress, at least a lot of Congress, doesn’t want Syrians. It’s Obama that is sponsoring them. What now?

  28. I notice that braindead Libertarians believe that city mators can disobey immigration laws.

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