I’m an Acadian Frenchman, or at least I fancy myself one. I draw my lineage from France, by way of Frenchmen exiled from Nova Scotia, Canada, by the English in 1755, during what has been named the Grand Derangement. My ancestors ended up in southern Louisiana in what is today referred to as the French Triangle.
Though I grew up in Oklahoma, I have always considered Louisiana the home state of my ancestors in America. Imagine my interest at the notion that Syrian refugees had already been landing in New Orleans for over a week now. How could Governor Bobby Jindal have allowed that, pray tell?
Now, the last time I was in New Orleans, though excited to be reunited with my Americanized French culture, the most French legacy I found there were the Vietnamese waiters in Cafe Du Monde. I waded through the French Quarter, through the drunken “lassez les bon temps rouler”-yelling tourists as they threw dollars at the feet of local tap-dancing kids and older man bands playing “As The Saints Go Marching In.” As for hearing the mother tongue, the only French I heard was from me, asking myself, “Qui dans l’enfer moi j’fais icitt?” (What the hell am I doing here?)
Let’s face it, if you want the Cajun experience and you’re in New Orleans, you’re on the wrong side of the Mississippi River. And N’owlins, folks, is a liberal and diverse city. Far be it for me to stand in the way if it wants to suck start a Glock by infusing Syrians into the quartiers. It’s as good a place as any to sneak in Syrian refugees, right?
But wait, did I say “sneak” them in? Indeed I did. In fact, to date, 14 Syrian refugees have been settled in southeast Louisiana by the State Department bypassing Governor Jindal’s office, working instead directly with the state’s Catholic Charities of Louisiana Archdiocese of New Orleans’ Refugee Resettlement Services using federal referrals for refugee placement.
Bobby Jindal is one of five state governors now who have made formal disclosures that their states will not accept refugees with possible links to the Islamic State. In Jindal’s case, he’s made this stand with special consideration of the investigation still underway of the ISIS-orchestrated mass murder in Paris. According to the governor,
“I issued an executive order telling my agencies to do everything we can. We don’t want these refugees in our state. I’ve ordered the state police to track the ones that are already in Louisiana. They didn’t tell us when they sent these refugees to Louisiana. We had no warning up front, ahead of time.”
“As Americans, we embolden freedom and opportunity to the rest of the world, but by opening up our borders and refusing to collaborate or share information with states, you are threatening that reality. It would be prudent to pause the process of refugees coming to the United States. Authorities need to investigate what happened in Europe before this problem comes to the United States. As Governor of Louisiana, I demand information about the Syrian refugees being placed in Louisiana in hopes that the night of horror in Paris is not duplicated here.”
Louisiana is now one of 31 states that have made formal declarations that Syrian refugees are not welcome. Unfortunately, the Constitution ultimately confers that decision to the federal government. Opposition from state government, however, would make the execution of refugee moves just that much more difficult. Moving refugees into states without formal announcement to state authority appears to be an attempt to avoid friction from state governments opposed to taking on refugees.
What, then, are the real figures of refugees settled in the state of Louisiana? The correct answer, according to the State Department, is 14—seven refugees in Kenner, six in New Orleans, and one in Baton Rouge.
New Orleans, as I already stated above, is a liberal and diverse city. Kenner…well Kenner is just a suburb of New Orleans. Baton Rouge, again, wrong (or right) side of the Mississippi River to strike a cord with me and my homeboys in the French Triangle. What’s more, Baton Rouge falls under the purview of the Catholic Charities of Louisiana under Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory Aymond—same as Kenner and New Orleans.
What legal grounds, if any, do state governors have to actively refuse entry of refugees? According to a citation from the Louisiana State Constitution, “During times of emergency, the governor has emergency powers to protect the citizens and property of the state of Louisiana.” Just how far a fight between state and federal authorities on the issue might go, well, that fight remains to be fought. Which state stands the best grounds to fight it? Texas?
Governor Jindal included in his communication with the Obama administration demands about Syrian refugees being placed in Louisiana, specifically the levels of background screening of the refugees. Screening of refugees for placement in the United States falls under the purview of the Refugee Screening Center of the FBI’s National Security Branch, and can take from 12 to 18 months.
Finally, what of the other state allocations for Syrian refugees? To see what’s in store for your neck of the woods, refer to the State Department graphic below entitled “Here Comes the Neighborhood.” Geo sends