Politics

Alabama Governor’s Office Sues Obama Administration Over Refugee Resettlement

The Obama administration has “failed to provide the State of Alabama with sufficient information about the refugees who have been settled or will be settled within its borders,” the lawsuit claims.

President Obama shakes hands with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley upon arrival in Birmingham, Alabama, on March 26, 2015. Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

Alabama officials entered the legal fray over the resettlement of refugees in the U.S., suing the federal government over claims that the Obama administration has failed to consult with the state over its resettlement plans.

Alleging that the Obama administration is not complying with the requirement under the Refugee Act of 1980 that the federal government consult with states on resettlements, three Alabama state officials are seeking a court order that the administration “may not place refugees within the State of Alabama unless and until they have fulfilled those consultation duties and obligations to the State of Alabama.”

Concerns about the resettlement of Syrian refugees — and, as the discussions continued, broader concerns about the refugee resettlement process in general — were raised by more than half of the nation’s governors in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris that left more than 100 people dead.

“Regarding security, Alabama shares the concerns of the intelligence community – including those of the Nation’s highest ranking intelligence officials – that sufficient information is lacking to ensure that certain refugees – including those from Syria – have neither provided material support to terrorists nor are terrorists themselves,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit is filed by private attorneys and Gov. Robert Bentley’s chief legal adviser on behalf of the state of Alabama; Alabama Medicaid Agency Commissioner Stephanie McGee Azar; Acting State Health Officer Thomas M. Miller, M.D.; and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier.

“The Refugee Act of 1980 requires that the federal government ‘shall consult regularly (not less often than quarterly) with State and local governments and private nonprofit voluntary agencies concerning the sponsorship process and the intended distribution of refugees among the States and localities before their placement in those States and localities,’” according to the lawsuit.

Texas previously filed a similar lawsuit, and federal officials have maintained that they have provided sufficient consultation under the law.

Gov. Bentley tweeted about the lawsuit:

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange’s spokesperson has not responded to multiple requests for comment on the lawsuit, and Strange has not issued a news release or mentioned the lawsuit on Twitter.

This is a developing story.

From the lawsuit:







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Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at chris.geidner@buzzfeed.com.
 
 

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