GOP lawmakers look to penalize refugee resettlement charities

PHOENIX — Unable to block the federal from sending refugees to Arizona, six Republican lawmakers want to penalize the charities that help them resettle here.

Sen. Judy Burges of Sun City West, who is leading the effort, told Capitol Media Services she wants to “have a discussion” about how refugees wind up in Arizona and what costs are incurred by the state. It specifically requires the Department of Economic Security to suspend its participation in the federally funded refugee program.

But as other states that have taken similar steps have found, approval of SB 1468 would not stop the refugees. All it would do is mean the federal government would continue to send people to the state, only without cooperation and coordination with the state.

And there is nothing that stops refugees from moving to Arizona once they’re in the country legally.

The potentially more far-reaching part of her legislation would impose a fine on charities of $1,000 a day for each refugee it helps place in the state. And if a refugee is arrested, the would be financially liable for the cost of arrest, prosecution and incarceration of that person.

Burges conceded that she is using that approach because, realistically, it’s the only option available to her to stem the flow of refugees.



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