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Arizona House Panel Approves Measure Refusing Refugee Resettlement In Arizona

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

After a heated debate Wednesday, a House panel voted to refuse to use state and local resources to cooperate with efforts to place refugees in Arizona unless the federal government meets certain conditions.

Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, says the attacks in Paris show the danger of refugees. His legislation can't block the federal government from settling refugees here. But it does require federal agencies to prove the refugee has gone through a thorough background check and reimburse the state for costs.

Dissenters said the measure seeks to scapegoat refugees for various problems. Thorpe said that's not true.

"I'm certainly not trying to scapegoat anyone. If I were, it would be the federal government. So, in other words, I want the federal government to be held to a high standard," Thorpe said.

Rep. Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix, agreed with Thorpe on one point: that the legislation likely will do nothing to block the federal government from settling refugees here. But what it will do, she said, is add to the state's poor reputation among the rest of the country.

"My concern is this bill does nothing more than send another message that stereotypes Arizona. And I'm part of Arizona," Rios said. "And I don't like traveling out of state and having folks say, oh, goodness, you're from Arizona, that's where they did this bill or that bill."

Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescot, took the anti-refugee settlement argument a step further by calling for an "immigration time-out."

"I think 10 years would be the adequate period. We have been so overrun by immigrants and illegals and people coming to this country. The truth of it is, if you can get to the United States you can stay here. That's an absolute fact," he said.

The measure now needs approval by the full House.