TOPEKA, Kan. (CN) – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback issued an executive order expanding his ban on state assistance to Syrian refugees in Kansas to refugees from every country in the world.
Brownback on Friday issued Executive Order No. 16-01 , which broadened his November executive order, No. 15-07, concerning resettlement of refugees in Kansas.
The Republican governor signed the first order after the Paris terrorist attacks, joining 30 other governors in demanding that Syrian refugees be banned from resettling in their states. Brownback and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, so far, are the only governors who issued executive orders to try to block resettlement of Syrian refugees in their states.
The bans are probably unenforceable, as states have no power to make immigration law, and people with refugee status are legal U.S. residents, and so cannot be prohibited from moving from one state to another.
Brownback worked around that by ordering the state not to spend any money on refugees in Kansas, or to “aid, cooperate with, or assist [refugees] in any way.”
Brownback and the other governors – 30 of them Republicans – claim that the Refugee Act of 1980 requires immigration officials to consult with governors and the several states, and that the immigration service has not done so.
Brownback’s Executive Order 16-01, “Protecting Kansas from Terrorism,” states that “no department, commission, board or agency of the government of the State of Kansas shall aid, cooperate with, or assist in any way the relocation of refugees that present a safety and security risk to the State of Kansas, until such time as an adequate vetting process is in place with adequate assurances to the state.”
It attempts to block relocation to Kansas of refugees from “anywhere in the world” who present a “safety and security risk.” It also states that Kansas “should and will remain welcoming to refugees as to which we can be assured there is no risk to the safety and security of our citizens.”
“It is my responsibility as governor of this great state to do what we can to protect the citizens of Kansas and I will act to maintain the security of our state,” Brownback said in a statement.
Brownback said his second executive order stemmed from federal indictments against two suspected terrorists last week.
A Houston grand jury on Jan. 6 indicted Omar Faraj Saeed al Hardan , 24, a Palestinian national born in Iraq and living in Texas, on charges of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization and making false statement or representation to an agency of the United States. That indictment was unsealed on Jan. 7.
Al Hardan entered the United States as a refugee in 2009 and was granted permanent residence in 2011. The indictment accuses him of lying on his 2014 naturalization application by stating that he was not associated with any terrorist organization, though he was associated with ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, throughout 2014.
Al Hardan also was involved with Al-Nusrah Front, an alias of Al-Qa’ida, during 2013 and 2014, according to the indictment.
The other man, Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab , 23, a Sacramento resident born in Iraq, came to the United States as a refugee from Syria in 2012. He is charged with providing false statements and representations by lying to agents at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services about travel to Syria and his association with Al-Nusra Front.
Brownback cited the arrests to say the vetting system for refugees is not working.
“This is evidence that the Obama administration is disregarding the safety of our citizens through a refugee vetting system that is clearly inadequate,” he said.
The executive order includes but is not limited to the Kansas Refugee Program, the Refugee Resettlement Program, the Refugee Social Service Program administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families, and the Kansas Refugee Preventive Health Program administered by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
It also bars the funding or administrating of any grant program under the authority of the state.
State Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, blasted Brownback’s order.
“I don’t take seriously the governor’s claim about protecting Kansans by denying access (to refugees) when he is a leader in a party that refuses to address giving terrorists guns,” Ward told the Topeka Capitol Journal, alluding to people on the no-fly list being legally allowed to purchase weapons.
The Topeka Capitol Journal cited statistics from the Department for Children and Families estimating that 411 refugees from various countries, not including Syria, were expected in the Kansas City metro area this year, roughly 276 in Wichita and approximately 90 in southwest Kansas.
Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer, who visited the Syria-Jordan border in November with Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, supported Friday’s executive order.
“We must consider whether refugees fleeing the persecution of their home country may be better served by resettlement in a friendly nation closer to their homes,” Colyer said in a statement. He called on U.S. allies to “step up to stem the tide of this humanitarian crisis.”
“America will continue to be a country that defends the oppressed, and Kansas will continue to be welcoming to refugees when we can be assured there is no risk to the safety and security of our citizens.”
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