Obama Administration Warns States Against Persecuting Refugees

No Legal Basis to Discriminate Against Refugees Based on Religion

Faced with a growing number of governors announcing they oppose the admittance of refugees from Syria and Iraq into the country, the Obama Administration has issued a formal letter to state officials warning them that there is no legal basis to discriminate against refugees based on religion or national origin.

The US Office of Refugee Resettlement, part of the Department of Health and Human Service, is the author of the letter, and cautioned that any efforts by the state governments to persecute “unwelcome” types of refugees would be illegal and could result in suspension of federal funding.

The refugee question has become an increasingly political one, with several 2016 candidates proposing barring refugees from the region in general, or potentially just the Muslims in particular. Others have proposed putting all refugees, or indeed all Muslims, in a surveillance database, and forcing all Muslim-Americans to wear badges to identify themselves as such. The House also passed a bill early last week seeking to block Iraqi and Syrian refugees from the country, though the Senate may not take up the issue.

Anti-refugee sentiment spiked dramatically with the recent Paris attacks, and rumors of one of the attackers being a refugee, though officials in Europe say this is likely not the case, and that the refugee passport found at the scene was likely planted by ISIS attackers to try to fuel attacks on the refugees, who are mostly fleeing from them.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.