US Governors Halt Syrian Refugee Efforts in Paris Aftermath
By Charlene Aaron
CBN News — Several governors are halting efforts to allow Syrian refugees into their states in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
In September, the Obama administration announced that the U.S. would take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.
In Michigan, which has a large Arab-American population, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder previously welcomed refugees into his state. But on Sunday, he announced he’s postponing efforts to accept more refugees until federal officials fully review security procedures and clearances.
Snyder said that while he is proud of the state’s history of immigration, the “first priority is protecting the safety of our residents.”
Lutheran Social Services of Michigan has helped resettle somewhere between 1,800 to 2,000 refugees in the state over the past year. About 200 of them are from Syria, with many others from Iraq.
In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Sean de Four, the agency’s vice president of Child and Family Services, said the U.S. has a moral obligation to help with what he called a “humanitarian crisis the world has not seen since World War II.”
“I certainly understand and appreciate Gov. Snyder’s desire to be cautious and put the safety of Michiganders first,” de Four said. “The State Department already uses an overabundance of caution in its screening of refugees before they gained entry into the United States.”
“In fact, refugees spend an average of five to seven years in refugee camps being screened and background checks before access to any country,” he added.
More Syrian refugees were expected in coming months, but Snyder’s move could close the door on that.
“He could make it very difficult, next to impossible for refugees to come here,” de Four said, pointing out that two-thirds of Syrian refugees are women and children. “It’s really unfortunate.”
In Alabama, fellow Republican Gov. Robert Bentley also announced Sunday that he would refuse Syrian refugees relocating to the state, saying, in a news release, “I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way.”
Bentley said the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency was diligently working with federal officials to monitor any possible threats.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday that his state will not accept any more Syrian refugees in the United States.
In a tweet Monday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson wrote, “As governor I will oppose refugees being located to Arkansas.”
The move by the governors comes amidst heightened concerns that terrorists might use the refugees as cover to sneak across borders. One of the attackers in Paris had a Syrian passport.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he wants more information from the White House “in hopes that the night of horror in Paris is not duplicated here.”
The GOP presidential contender sent a letter to the White House on Saturday, demanding to know how many Syrian refugees have been resettled in his state. He also requested information about how well Syrians entering the U.S. are screened.
Other presidential candidates are weighing in as well.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., says the U.S. can’t properly screen Syrian refugees and shouldn’t let them into the country.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, warned, “If we do not act, this terrorism will come to America.”
GOP candidate Mike Huckabee called the idea of allowing in Syrian refugees “crazy.”
“It seems to me the craziest thing we could do is take people who live in a desert, who don’t speak our language, who don’t understand our culture, and bring them to Minnesota during the winter,” the former Arkansas governor said.
But President Barack Obama said the Paris attacks should not affect the small intake of Syrian refugees into the United States.
Speaking Monday from the G-20 economic summit in Turkey, he said, “Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values.”
Report via CBN News
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