Saying that states have the right to protect themselves from “acts of war,” state Rep. Lake Ray of Jacksonville has filed legislation that would compel Florida’s refugee resettlement organizations to allow state background checks on refugees being brought in from Syria and other troubled areas.
“It addresses the concerns the state has and many citizens have related to refugees being brought into the state, without having any solid background checks. The federal government is doing some checks, but in appearing before Congress, they have said they really can’t tell you there aren’t some issues here. And with the events that happened in California in December, a lot of people are very leery of that,” Ray said.
HB 1095 Relating to Prevention of Acts of War, cites Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution, according to Ray. That’s the provision allowing states to protect themselves from imminent danger.
“I think we all recognize there’s an imminent threat.”
“What it does is it says, very simply, that we have contracts with various agencies across the state. Those agencies have contracts with the federal government. They are being compensated to locate people here. They then look to the state for supporting resources. Since they’re using our resources, they have an obligation to provide information to us. The governor and I have talked, and he said when President (Barack) Obama and I talked, he wouldn’t tell us who they are bringing in, he wouldn’t tell us how they are checking them or where they are going. That’s no partnership in the interest of the state of Florida.”
Ray’s bill is the latest salvo at the state level voicing opposition to refugees from Syria or other Middle Eastern countries. Legally, the federal government’s authority overrides state objections to refugee resettlement.