A laudable concern for national security. One hopes the other 37 will soon follow suit.
“After Paris attacks, governors refuse to accept Syrian refugees,” by Mary Troyan, USA Today, November 16, 2015:
WASHINGTON — At least 13 governors say they will not accept Syrian refugees in their states in response to Friday’s attacks in Paris.
The Republican governors — in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin — are concerned that resettlement could open the doors to terrorists.
“There may be those who will try to take advantage of the generosity of our country and the ability to move freely within our borders through this federal resettlement program, and we must ensure we are doing all we can to safeguard the security of Americans,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said.
In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal tweeted that, “I just signed an Executive Order instructing state agencies to take all available steps to stop the relocation of Syrian refugees to LA.”
At least 132 people were killed and hundreds injured in a series of attacks that took place around Paris on Friday evening. Several of the attackers have been identified as French citizens. According to French prosecutors, a bomber who targeted the national stadium was found with a Syrian passport.
The passport’s discovery raised concerns that Islamic State militants may be crossing into Turkey before moving to Western Europe alongside the hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants who have entered Europe this year, many of them fleeing the civil war in Syria.
In Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder said he is suspending his efforts encouraging resettlement of Syrian refugees in his state. But he he did not make any blanket statement on Monday that refugees would not be allowed into Michigan.
“Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration,” Snyder said in the statement. “But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents.”
Comments that Snyder had made Sunday were widely viewed as an indication he would not allow Syrian refugees into the state.
About 20 Syrian refugees already in the pipeline for resettlement in the U.S. either recently arrived in Michigan or are expected to arrive soon, and Snyder said Monday he is not asking that they be stopped or vetted again
Detroit-area Arab-American leaders and refugee advocates argued the Department of Homeland Security already does extensive security checks before allowing any refugees into the U.S.
“The United States should be a safe haven,” said Dr. Yahya Basha, a Syrian-American advocate from West Bloomfield, Mich., who has family members who are refugees. He was at the White House recently to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis with U.S. officials: “We should welcome them.”
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a statement saying the plan to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States is “is not the right strategy.”
Despite such reactions, President Obama is continuing with plans to accept refugees from Syria. Responding to calls to admit Christians but not Muslims into the country, he said, “That’s shameful. That’s not American, it’s not who we are.”
“We don’t have religious tests to our compassion,” he said, speaking from the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey.
But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a letter to the president that, “Neither you nor any federal official can guarantee that Syrian refugees will not be part of any terroristic activity. As such, opening our door to them irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans to unacceptable peril.”
One refugee advocacy organization said the governors are setting themselves up for a discrimination lawsuit.
“You can’t restrict certain nationalities coming to your state,” said Jen Smyers, director of policy and advocacy with the Immigration and Refugee Program at Church World Service….