Governor Robert Bentley says he won’t allow any Syrian refugees to enter the state.
President Barack Obama has said the U.S. will take in about 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year. Bentley, and a dozen other governors, however, are saying ‘no’ after it was discovered one of the principles involved in the Paris terrorist attacks last week entered France as a Syrian refugees.
“When you know that some of the people that are coming from that region have the potential to be terrorists, we can’t take a chance on that,” Bentley said Monday in Birmingham.
Conservatives support that stance.
“If we have a way to stop something knowingly now, there’s no reason we shouldn’t try to stop that,” said Terry Lathan of The
odore, the chairperson of the Alabama Republican Party.
A Mobile immigration lawyer, however, says this is a federal issue, whether the governor likes it or not.
“The federal government is in charge of who comes to the U.S.,” said Michael Tonder.
“I don’t know if a governor can stand on a border and say ‘person, you can’t come in.’ So I don’t think it’s plausible.”
Alabama has a very small refugee population, most from Iraq. 445 Iraqi refugees from that nation have settled in Alabama in the last nine years.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, Alabama also has a small population of people born in the Middle East.
162,000 people who were born in another country live in Alabama – 3.4-percent of the population. More than half are from Latin America. Just 2.4-percent, or about four-thousand people, are from the Middle East.
About 500 students from the Middle East attend the University of South Alabama… mostly from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Just five Syrians attend USA.
Alabama’s and Mobile’s Muslim population is also small. There are five mosques located in Mobile County according to the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. Statewide there are about 10,000 Muslims – 2-percent of the overall population. In Mobile, there are about 1,500 Muslims.