Experts say states legally unable to block Syrian refugees

As Congress takes up the debate over allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S. following the Paris terror attacks, more than half the nation’s governors have come out against allowing those refugees within their state lines.

Thirty governors have announced they will not allow Syrian refugees into their states, including Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. All but one of those states has a Republican governor. New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan is the lone Democrat to come out in opposition of the refugees.

However, experts say it’s not the state’s decision to make.

John Jackson, a visiting professor for the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University says despite the recent announcements, states ultimately have no say on Syrian refugees coming in.

"States can’t have a foreign policy. States don’t deal with nations. Only the United States government can do that," Jackson said.

Jackson says declarations announcing a state won’t take in refugees, like Illinois made Monday, are all for show.

"They’re totally hollow, except they’re great politics. Most people will salute them and say, ‘Yay, that’s what we wanted,’ but it’s not legal, and it’s not constitutional," Jackson said.

Videos showing the mass emigration of Syrians demonstrate the thousands upon thousands of people fleeing their war torn country. Every year, the U.S. grants thousands of refugees asylum. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin says the U.S. shouldn’t turn away from helping those in need.

"Those who say we should turn away refugees in the United States have forgotten the lessons of history," Durbin said on the Senate floor.

Durbin says the U.S. should think long and hard before refusing refugees like those from Syria help.

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