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House Republicans propose bill to let states refuse to take Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] Republican leaders in the US House of Representatives [official website] on Thursday announced [press release] the "Keep Terrorists Out of America Act," which would require approval from a state's governor and legislature before Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees could be transferred or released into it. Under the the proposed measure, the federal government would be required, at least 60 days before any such action, to certify to the state that a specific detainee does not pose a security risk. The executive branch would be required to assure Congress that any release or transfer would not impede the detainee's detention or prosecution. House Minority Leader John Boehner [R-OH] said legislative action is necessary because President Barack Obama [official website] has not announced a plan to handle the roughly 240 detainees still housed at Guantanamo since deciding to close the facility [JURIST report]. Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] testified [video] to the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee [official website] that the administration would not endanger Americans in its handling of the remaining Guantanamo detainees.

If successful, the Republican proposal might block a US plan to accept a group of Uighur Muslims [JURIST report] who have been cleared for release. Last week, Holder said that the US had cleared 30 Guantanamo Bay detainees for release and would begin formally requesting [JURIST report] that European countries accept them within weeks. In March, top officials from the Obama administration met with leaders from the European Union (EU) [official website] to discuss preliminary plans to transfer [JURIST report] Guantanamo Bay detainees to European countries. Individual member states have also indicated their openness to accepting detainees, including Lithuania, Ireland, Germany, and Portugal [JURIST reports]. Other states have expressed reservations about accepting detainees, including Poland and Spain, while Italy [JURIST reports] and the Netherlands [AFP report] have said they will not accept detainees.

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