On the same day he issued an executive order to sharply increase refugee admissions to the U.S., President Joe Biden moved to block state and local governments from having a say about settlements in their communities.
Revoking a Trump administration consent policy, Biden gave federal officials 90 days to recommend future refugee resettlement protocols. It is unlikely that states will have much of a voice going forward.
The arrival of Syrian refugees got contentious during the waning days of the Obama administration, when more than half the governors opposed resettlement in their states. By 2019, only a handful of states agreed to receive refugees from around the world.
While several states subsequently opted back into the refugee program, Texas — a leader in resettlement for several years – announced it would remain on the sidelines. Gov. Greg Abbott said the state and nonprofit organizations should concentrate their resources on people already in Texas, including the state’s expanding homeless population.
At the height of its conflict with the Obama administration, Texas sued to halt the flow of Syrian refugees. Though the lawsuit was dismissed in federal court, Texas officials won’t rule out another legal challenge.
However the local-federal tussle turns out, no state can stop refugees from moving in once they’ve landed on U.S. shores. Citing a hypothetical example, Voice of America noted, “If a refugee family would rather be in Florida instead of their assigned destination in Arizona, the state cannot object to the family’s moving there, but the family may forgo services that would have been provided to them in Arizona.”
Whatever administrative window dressing Biden might apply, his radical increase in refugee admissions, while at the same time inviting people to abuse our political asylum process, keeps states in a subservient position as he decides, via executive order, what is “in the national interest.”