Robert Bentley appeals refugee lawsuit dismissal

Syrian refugees

Gov. Robert Bentley announced Tuesday the state will appeal a federal court’s dismissal of the governor’s lawsuit against the federal government over refugee placement.

The governor’s office said the appeal was filed Tuesday with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in the wake of his suit’s dismissal on July 29.

“The District Court based its dismissal on a technicality, a finding that Alabama may not sue to enforce the Refugee Act,” Bentley said. “The District Court did not find that the federal government was fulfilling its obligations under the act.”

Bentley he said he wants a court order to require the government to comply with its statutory obligations to consult with the state before placing refugees within its borders.

“My problem is not with individual refugees, rather my issue is with the federal government and the unwillingness to enforce their own laws and follow their own procedures,” Bentley continued. “I will continue to fight this issue until the federal government is held accountable for its noncompliance and is properly including the states in this important decision-making as required by law.”

In January, Bentley filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state of Alabama, stating federal officials are in violation of the Refugee Act of 1980, which he contends requires a consultation with states regarding the placement of refugees before those refugees are placed within its borders. This, despite the fact that U.S. Supreme Court precedent has held repeatedly that matters of immigration and asylum are the responsibility of the federal government.

A judge had previously dismissed a similar lawsuit in Texas, ruling resettlements are federal decisions, and that the state isn’t entitled to pick and choose which refugees locate where.


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