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State Lawmaker Proposes Bill To Block Syrian Refugees From Arizona

Bob Thorpe
(Photo courtesy of the Arizona State Legislature)
Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff.

A Republican lawmaker is trying to erect new roadblocks against the federal government resettling Middle East refugees in Arizona.

Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, has proposed legislation to block plans by the Obama administration to locate in Arizona any of the 10,000 Syrians that will be brought into the country this year. Thorpe said he has no confidence that the federal government is properly screening refugees, a point he said was proven by one of the San Bernadino terrorists who, with her husband, killed 14 people in December.

He said the issue is one of state sovereignty. "I assume the federal government has the jurisdiction to have a refugee program. I don't necessarily agree they have the right to force a state to take those refugees."

Thorpe conceded it's another matter of whether the state can simply say no. "I don't believe that's ever been challenged in court," he said. "It's my hope that if my bill gets passed that might open up the opportunity for our AG to then challenge the federal government and really determine where states' rights begin and end."

In November, Gov. Doug Ducey added his voice to a chorus of governors asking the federal government to immediately halt settlement of new refugees in their states. So far no state has actually been able to block their placement.