They’re going to force it on us, whether we want it or not.
WASHINGTON — Governors don’t have any real control over the federal government’s decision to accept and place Syrian refugees — but they could frustrate the efforts of federal officials to do so, administration officials acknowledged on Tuesday.
Over the past 48 hours, more than half of the nation’s governors have called for a halt to allowing Syrian refugees into the country for now, a response to this past weekend’s terrorist attacks in Paris that left more than 120 people dead.
Those calls to halt the program have varied in key ways — some governors have tacitly or explicitly acknowledged that they lack the authority to prevent the federal government from taking action, something the federal government affirmed on Tuesday.
“This is a federal program carried out under the authority of federal law, and refugees arriving in the U.S. are protected by the Constitution and federal law,” a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call.
“While state and local governments have an important consultative role to play in the resettlement of refugees, the resettlement program is, as you’re hearing, administered by the federal government,” the official said.
But the states could affect those plans by refusing to cooperate with the government or with the non-governmental organizations that actually administer resettlement programs; states could also possibly refuse federal funds. How much states could affect what are mostly federal decisions carried out by local communities is also unclear.