What can governors do to block Syrian refugees? Not much, experts say

Several governors from across the country have released statements saying they won't accept Syrian refugees. The thing is, it's not really up to them, experts say.

Refugee resettlement is handled by the federal government, which determines how many refugees will be admitted and from where. 

>> RELATED STORY: Which states are saying no to Syrian refugees?

"These states cannot do anything with regards to federal immigration law," Mo Idlibby, a Syrian-born immigration attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, told WSOC-TV. "You say, 'OK, so where's the substance in what you are talking about?' There is none."

When it comes to finding housing for those refugees, that's handled by volunteer agencies, which receive funding from the Department of State or are self-funded. (Video via Catholic Community Services of Utah)

In fact, if governors try to stop refugee settlement, either by trying to block their admission into the state or by blocking their housing, that could violate the 14th Amendment, as well as a mountain of legal precedents and Supreme Court rulings, according to University of Connecticut law professor Jon Bauer. 

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Governors can lobby members of Congress to enact legislation to limit or stop the admission of Syrian refugees, and Sen. Rand Paul has already introduced a bill that would do that. (Video via The White HouseOffice of Sen. Rand Paul)

But it's unlikely such a bill would make it through both houses of Congress, and even more unlikely it would have the support needed to override a probable presidential veto. 

The governors and Sen. Paul have said they think the refugees could pose a security threat and need to be screened more thoroughly. (Video via Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty)

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The U.S. already has one of the strictest screening processes for asylum-seekers in the world; The process can take 18 to 24 months to complete. (Video via U.S. Department of State)

But opponents of resettling refugees have cited FBI director James Comey. (Video via C-SPAN)

"If we have no information on someone, they've never crossed our radar screen, never been a ripple in the pond, there will be no record of them there. It will be challenging," Comey said. 

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But that's hardly unique to Syrian refugees. In fiscal year 2014, the U.S. accepted 9,000 refugees from another war-torn country with an active terror group: Somalia. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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