To Doug Ducey's Chagrin, Arizona Is a Top U.S. Destination for Syrian Refugees

A Syrian refugee and her newborn.EXPAND
A Syrian refugee and her newborn.

Back in November, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey publicly demanded that the federal government stop sending Syrian refugees to Arizona.

But hundreds have arrived in the state since then — so many that Arizona now leads the nation in resettling the refugees.

Millions of Syrians have been displaced from their homes since a brutal war began in the Middle Eastern country in 2011; according to the United Nations, 4.8 million people have been driven from the country. This week, the White House announced that the U.S. had reached President Barack Obama's goal of resettling 10,000 refugees during the current fiscal year, which began October 1, 2015. The total of accepted refugees from the Syrian Civil War is now about 12,000.

Arizona has taken in 620 Syrian refugees during the fiscal year, according to the State Department. That's the third-highest number of any state, trailing only Michigan and California. More Syrian refugees resettled in Arizona (population 6.7 million) than in Texas (population 27 million-plus). Several news outlets produced maps that showed where all the refugees were placed.

The Arizona Department of Economic Security, which manages the state's Refugee Resettlement program, refined the figure slightly after a request from New Times, pegging the total at 664 since October 1.

After the terrorist attacks in Paris this past November, Ducey generated worldwide headlines when he proclaimed that "the world remains at war with radical Islamic terrorists" and called for "an immediate halt in the placement of any new refugees in Arizona."

As is its prerogative, the federal government ignored Ducey and the dozens of other state governors who made the same demand. And so far, no reports have surfaced of any trouble from the refugees. Still, the governor wishes they hadn't been sent here.

"It's not a surprise that the federal government didn't listen to the concerns of states and governors on this issue — they rarely do on any issue," Ducey's spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato, told New Times on the governor's behalf. "It’s disappointing, but sadly has become the norm in Washington, D.C."

Hillary Clinton said last year that if elected president, she would boost the intake of Syrian refugees to about 65,000 a year as long as a vetting process is beefed up.


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