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Arizona House bills would give state right to turn away refugees

PHOENIX — Arizona House bills being proposed would be a step closer to making real Gov. Doug Ducey’s wish to stop or limit new refugees from resettling in the state.

House Bill 2370 by Rep. Bob Thorpe would block the state from helping resettle refugees if it can’t make certain they have been properly screened and vetted for terrorism risk. Another bill by Republican House Speaker David Gowan required an audit of the refugee resettlement program and costs to the state.

Gowan said House Bill 2691 was about safety.

The federal program prescreens and fingerprints refugees.

European countries are struggling with an influx of migrants from war-torn and impoverished countries.

In November, less than a week after more than 100 people were killed in terror attacks across Paris, Ducey called for an immediate halt to allowing refugees into Arizona.

One of the Paris attackers had traveled under a Syrian passport.

The governor said after the attacks that there were legitimate questions about the federal screening process of refugees.

Thorpe, a Republican, also wanted the federal program to reimburse the state for any costs it incurred.

Another bill from Thorpe, House Bill 2682, would require organizations putting up unaccompanied minors caught on U.S.-Mexico border to get licenses and face inspections.

Arizona was a destination for thousands of migrants from Central America, including unaccompanied minors in 2014.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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