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Excerpt

  • Determine if refugee resettlement will have an adverse impact on existing residents of a community.
  • Increase communication with local officials.
  • Establish protocol for local government officials to seek a moratorium on new refugee resettlement activities in their communities.
  • Increase oversight of nonprofit organizations that have been delegated authority to manage refugee resettlement.
  • Restore authority to manage refugee resettlement in the state legislatures.
  • Require state refugee coordinator to report at least quarterly to the state legislature on the measures taken to ensure that the state’s refugee plan is in line with the best interest of current residents.
  • Withhold state-administered public benefits from newly resettled refugees if resettlement occurs without notice or coordination with state and local officials.
  • Refuse cooperation with the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

United States intelligence officials have made clear that the infrastructure in Syria does not exist for the U.S. to be able to adequately screen individuals seeking entry from that country.  Nonetheless, the Obama Administration has decided to increase the number of refugees it admits from that country from fewer than 2,000 in fiscal year 2015, to at least 10,000 in fiscal year 2016.  As such, many state and local governments have been left to wonder whether such refugees will be sent to their communities, and how they can keep their citizens safe in light of the federal government’s admissions that it cannot properly vet those they are now attempting to relocate.

While the federal government, specifically the executive branch, has authority over refugee admissions, federal law does require consultation with state and local governments before refugees may be resettled in their communities.  In spite of this requirement, communities around the country are claiming they have been completely cut out of the process and are demanding a greater stake in their security.   To help states and localities figure out how to navigate this process, FAIR has put together a backgrounder on the role of states in the refugee resettlement process, along with some suggestions as to how state and local governments can reassert their authority as partners.