By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, January 7, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) announced that the State of Alabama had filed a lawsuit against the federal government for non-compliance of the Refugee Act of 1980.
Gov. Bentley said, “On three separate occasions I have sent letters to the White House requesting information on the Refugee Reception Program in Alabama and these letters have gone unanswered. As Governor, the Alabama Constitution gives me the sovereign authority and solemn duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of all citizens of Alabama. The process and manner in which the Obama Administration and the federal government are executing the Refugee Reception Program is blatantly excluding the states.”
Gov. Bentley said, “My number one concern is the safety for the people of Alabama and making sure an outdated, archaic and dangerous process that excludes the states is eliminated. We simply cannot have a federal program that impacts states yet doesn’t allow states access to critical information. By filing suit, my goal is to reform the way the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the State Department handle the Refugee Resettlement Program” to ensure our State receives critical information.”
Gov. Bentley has strenuously objected to President Barack H. Obama’s (D) plan to resettle thousands of Syrian refugees in the United States. On November 15, Gov. Bentley demanded that no Syrian refugees be settled in Alabama. That demand was ignored by federal authorities. The State of Alabama is suing: the US State Department, the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), and the US Department of Health and Human Services and HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.
After learning of the announcement, State Representative Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City) said on Facebook, “Good job Governor.”
US Representative Mo Brooks (R from Huntsville) said in November, “The President cannot continue to undermine our national security and I’ll keep working to halt the movement of Syrian refugees into the United States.”
This Refugee Act of 1980 requires that the federal government consult with each state regarding the placement of refugees before refugees are placed within that state’s borders. Alabama is arguing in this lawsuit that that consultation with Alabama has not occurred.
Alabama contends that insufficient information about the refugees who have settled or will be settled in the state was shared by federal authorities. Alabama is arguing that not enough information was shared with the state for the state to prepare a plan to prepare for the influx of refugees.