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2015-12-24

Duel shaping up between state & Feds over Syrians

Special to the Courier

State officials were trying to keep Syrian refugees out of Texas, but it looks like a couple of Syrian families are coming in anyway. Professor Jeffrey Addicott, director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio, offered a look at why the federal government continues to overrule states in this matter.
Addicott said the legal question involved is as old as America. "It's that continuing battle between the sovereign state and the federal government that we've been fighting about since the inception of the republic," he observed. "How much power does the federal government have, and how much does the state have?"
He said the federal government can act within certain limits. "The federal government, according to the Supreme Court, has power over foreign affairs, and if [federal authorities] think it's in the best national interests to settle these people here in the United States, they can do so - on federal property," he emphasized, adding, "And of course there is federal property in Texas, [such as] military installations, etc."
Of the 30 states that have objected to the administration's plan to bring in the Syrians, Texas so far is the only one to sue the federal government over this issue. Addicott said the state is doing so mainly on the basis of the federal government's failure to follow its own procedures.
"They have to notify the state [ahead of time]," he said. "They have to give certain assurances about behavior and funding. And those things have to be done before they can just drop people onto the state."
What can state officials do?
"The governor has a variety of options," Addicott said. "Ultimately he [could] call out the state National Guard and say, 'No, we're not letting them in'."
On the other hand, Washington could then cut certain federal funds that would otherwise go to the state. Addicott asid it's a complex issue made worse by the dueling levels of government.
Addicott has more to say about the situation in his new book, "Radical Islam: Why?"