Syrians Surrender at U.S. Border

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

November 24, 2015

Last week, eight Syrians turned themselves over to immigration officials at the U.S.-Mexico border – two men, two women and four children. One day earlier, five Pakistani aliens and one Afghani alien were apprehended at the Arizona border. The male Syrians were transferred to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Pearsall, Texas, while the women and children were sent to Dilley, Texas.

Dilley, Texas welcome sign

These events set up an interesting showdown of sorts for President Obama, under siege from most Americans, including some congressional Democrats, for what they see as his weakness in handling ISIS and the Assad Syrian regime. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking Intelligence Committee Democrat, is a prominent Obama critic.
 
Arizona and Texas, led by Governors Doug Ducey and Gregg Abbott, are among the 31 states that have told Obama that they refuse to accept Syrian refugees. In an earlier case, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence redirected a Syrian family to Connecticut. Indiana is one of the 31 states that will not take in Syrians; Connecticut will.
 
The incidents in Texas and Arizona raise multiple questions. First, can governors legally block the refugees? No one really knows. At a minimum, once the federal government grants refugee status, which happens almost immediately, the individual is free to move about the country.
 
But if for example Gov. Abbott, who has successfully challenged Obama before, orders one of his enforcement officers to put refugees on a bus destined for an accepting state, no one can stop him, at least over the short term. Abbott can claim, and properly so, that it’s in the refugees’ best interests to go where they’re wanted. And Connecticut is such a state. Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal is a staunch supporter of Obama’s Syrians refugee plan.
 
This also presents an opportunity for Obama to either take yet a firmer stand on his well-known Syrian refugee advocacy or, in deference to public opinion and to help 2016 congressional and presidential candidates who could suffer the consequences of his folly, soften his position. That is, Obama could either ensure that all 14 are granted refugee status or order them deported, especially in light of their illegal entry into the U.S.
 
During his more than seven years in the White House, Obama hasn’t shown the slightest flexibility on immigration. My money is on the second option. All 14 Middle Eastern aliens will get amnesty, a safe bet since four of them are children.

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