Professor Elizabeth Keyes, director of UB’s Immigrant Rights Clinic, appeared on ABC2’s “In Focus” program Tuesday evening Nov. 17 to discuss Gov. Larry Hogan’s request that the federal government halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state until it could be determined that they posed no risk to Marylanders.
Hogan’s request came as several Republican governors sought to block refugees from the Syrian civil war into their states following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris.
Keyes said that governors — states — have no authority to hold up the resettlement of refugees.
“It’s very clear that only the federal government has any authority about who comes into the country,” Keyes said. “That’s true for refugees, the same as it is for tourists or any other category of immigrant. That’s a federal responsibility – the states have no part in it.”
Keyes also said that states cannot “pick and choose” which refugees they take.
Said Keyes: “[States] can offer suggestions to the federal government, but it is a federal issue.”
Keyes added that security concerns are carefully addressed during what can be a yearlong — or longer — period of vetting people for U.S. refugee status.
“Those concerns are embedded in the process of screening refugees,” she said, adding that all candidates for refugee status – “even 6-year-old children” – are thoroughly vetted.
Keyes said she hoped Americans would remember the horror they felt two months ago on seeing the photo of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach in Turkey. Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi drowned while fleeing the Syrian civil war with his family.
“I hope we remember the humanity that little boy really evoked,” Keyes said. “These people are fleeing the very people responsible for the horrible attacks in Paris.”