According to a November, 2015 Bloomberg Politics poll, out of 628 adults, 53 percent surveyed said the country should not continue its program to resettle Syrian refugees. Only 28 percent said the U.S. should continue its program to resettle Syrian refugees without religious screening.
The same study also indicates a majority (63 percent) of Republicans or Republican-leaning Americans surveyed are not confident the U.S. government has done everything it could to prevent an attack here similar to the Paris terror attacks. Only 32 percent say they’re mostly confident the government has done everything it could.
It’s nearly the exact opposite for Democrats (62 percent mostly confident and 34 percent mostly not confident).
A November, 2015 Gallup poll says that a majority of Americans -- 60 percent to 37 percent -- oppose plans for the U.S. to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees.
Gallup notes these trends are nothing new. Americans have largely opposed the resettlement of refugees as far back as the 1930s, when Roosevelt proposed to take in German child refugees (usually Jews).
The only time that a majority of Americans responded positively to letting refugees enter the country was in 1999 and the question was about several hundred Kosovos instead of 10,000 Syrians.
In the end, these results aren’t far from the established average opinions of Americans (over the years, Americans are historically 33 percent for refugees and 57 percent against admitting refugees). Attitudes change once they’re already here. Nearly half of Americans (49 percent) say Syrian refugees would be welcome in their communities (the other 46 percent say they wouldn’t).
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates Arizona’s population as of July 1, 2015 at 6,731,484, or 2.1 percent of the total U.S. population (323,995,528).
According to a Department of State Report, between Oct. 1, 2015 and Feb. 29, 2016, Arizona has resettled 1,032 refugees, or 4.52 percent of all refugees resettled in the U.S, -- twice its per-capita commitment if all states accepted refugees proportionately.
This trend starts back to 2001, but Arizona has steadily increased its refugee take since the state began accepting refugees in 1975 (when it took only half a percent of total U.S. refugee resettlements).
Refugee resettlement numbers have actually decreased in the U.S. sharply since refugees started arriving in the 1970s, according to a State Department document. The high point occurred when the U.S. accepted 200,000 refugees in 1980. Since 1995 the U.S. hasn’t accepted more than 100,000 refugees annually, and the annual levels continue to drop.
As polls show that the majority of Americans don’t want refugees resettled in their county, state lawmakers have considered bills that would negatively address refugee resettlement.
Arizona law and refugees
The Arizona legislature has considered several bills including the following:
HB2691 requires the auditor general to conduct a special audit of the state’s refugee resettlement program to see how much state money is being spent to resettle refugees. The Republican sponsors don’t think any taxpayer money should be going toward refugee resettlement. The bill is doing well and awaits a third read and debate in the Senate.
HB2370 “prohibits Arizona from using its personnel and financial resources to enforce, administer, or cooperate with any action of the United States government to relocate within this State any refugee, unaccompanied alien child or a non-citizen of the United States.”
Again, although the legislature can’t stop refugee resettlement, they want to make it more difficult. As they reason, somewhere state many IS trickling down into the program. If true, this law could technically foul up the resettlement process enough that it would stop. Currently, refugees are supported via the federal government. HB2370 is doing OK, and might or might not make it to a third read and debate. It’s been a month since it last surfaced in the legislature.
HB2682 “Requires licensure of a refugee facility (facility) by the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS).” This presumably prevents abuse but is another hurdle for prospective refugee resettlement players, along with the $1,000 licensing fee leveled. It’s at the same stage as HB2370, awaiting a third read in the chamber it originated in.
SB1004 “Provides an exemption from rules for whole fruit and vegetables washed and cut on-site for immediate consumption at a public or private school facility or postsecondary educational institution.” It’s the only bill that’s good news for refugee gardeners because now they could sell their produce to schools. Schools are the bill’s main focus, but refugee farmers like those who work at the IRC’s New Roots program are definitely affected. SB1004 made it into the House and awaits a third read and debate.