Arizona Legislation Aims to Allow State the Right to Refuse Refugees


After the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris and Gov. Doug Ducey’s call for a pause in the resettlement of refugees in Arizona, the state’s Republican-controlled legislature has proposed a number of House Bills aimed at curbing federal immigration policies within the state of Arizona.

Among the bills is House Bill 2370, with legislative findings condemning the federal government of, among other things, “not fulfilling their constitutional responsibilities to ensure secure international borders,” placing “noncitizen refugees… within [the] state without the knowledge or permission of state and local officials,” and not “fully and completely [vetting] each noncitizen refugee… for criminal and terrorist backgrounds and associations.”

The bill’s main spokesman, Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, conceded the state might not be able to stop the federal action, but wanted to try anyhow. He also said:

“I would much rather be wrong and be told so by a judge as opposed to sitting back and doing nothing. My attitude toward the feds, if they’re overreaching their authority here in Arizona I want to push back.”

Another one of Thorpe’s bills, House Bill 2682, would require refugee center operators to renew their licenses yearly at the cost of a thousand dollars, monthly facility inspections, and obligatory biometric information on each refugee.

Along the same line of thinking, Arizona’s Republican House Speaker, David Gowan, proposed House Bill 2691 requiring an audit to review:

  1. the number of refugees resettled in Arizona in the last thirty-six months,
  2. The amount of state monies spent on the refugee resettlement program, and
  3. The amount of federal monies received for the resettlement program.

This resistance to federal policies is not endemic to Arizona, as South Carolina’s legislature is considering tracking the incoming refugees and Florida’s legislature suggesting the use military force to keep out refugees coming from outside the Western Hemisphere.