PHOENIX (KSAZ) - A new Arizona bill could allow the state to refuse refugees. The bill says the federal government must first ensure refugees are properly screened and also guarantee that the state won't be paying for refugees to move here.
Opponents of the bill say it's purely symbolic -- the federal government already does proper background checks and even gives the state millions of dollars to help refugees, but supporters of the bill say it will ensure the federal government does its job, especially in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
It's dinner time with the Alhalawa family. They're among the dozens of Syrian refugees settling into their Arizona homes.
Through a translator, Mohammad Alhalawa said he wanted to say thank you to the American people.
But a new bill making its way through the Capitol aims to block more refugees from being placed in Arizona if the federal government doesn't first prove it conducted thorough background checks and will cover the costs for any refugee resettlements.
"I don't believe the federal government has he right to place people here without our knowledge," said Republican Representative Bob Thorpe, who is sponsoring the bill.
The Alhalaw family says it took eight months of background checks and interviews before they were placed in the U.S.
Democrat Representative Rebecca Rios believes the bill scapegoats refugees.
"It does absolutely nothing. What it tells the federal government is you need to do a thorough background check. They're already doing that. What it says is we can't use Arizona tax payer dollars. We're not -- these programs are 100 percent federally funded. Again, it's just to score cheap political points," she said.
"I'm not trying to attack refugees. I'm really pushing back against the feds," explained Thorpe.
As the battle takes shape at the state capitol, this family is still feeling grateful to now call Arizona home.
The bill now heads to the House floor for a vote and could eventually reach Governor Doug Ducey's desk. The Governor has called for a temporary ban on refugee placement in Arizona.