Deal’s order to stop Syrian refugees may be on shaky legal ground

[private]Gov. Nathan Deal and the governors of more than a dozen other states issued strongly worded executive orders this week declaring that they won’t allow Syrian refugees to be resettled in their states – but they could run into legal difficulties if they actually try to carry out those orders.

Almost as soon as the executive orders were announced, legal scholars were pointing out that the federal government holds complete authority over matters involving immigration and deportation – authority that states cannot preempt.

They pointed to a 1941 Supreme Court decision that speaks forcefully on this issue, Hines v. Davidowitz.

The Supreme Court declared in that ruling that “the supremacy of the national power in the general field of foreign affairs, including power over immigration, naturalization and deportation, is made clear by the Constitution.”

The high court also said:

When the national government by treaty or statute has established rules and [312 U.S. 52, 63] regulations touching the rights, privileges, obligations or burdens of aliens as such, the treaty or statute is the supreme law of the land. No state can add to or take from the force and effect of such treaty or statute, for Article VI of the Constitution provides that ‘This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.’

Deal wasn’t conceding that point, however. When he was asked by an Associated Press reporter on Tuesday if he really thought the state could stop the federal government’s resettlement of Syrian refugees, he replied, “We’ll find out.”

Deal does apparently have the power to order state government not to cooperate with the federal government on any refugee resettlement activities and he did just that in the executive order he signed Monday.

Deal ordered that all state agencies “halt any involvement in accepting refugees from Syria for resettlement . . . until such time as Congress has approved of the new processes for accepting refugees from Syria.”

© 2015 by The Georgia Report


Tags: federal authority , Nathan Deal , Syrian refugees