In September, The Obama administration pledged to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next 12 months as part of a joint effort between the United States and the European Union to aid a massive flow of migrants fleeing war-torn states in the Middle East. On Monday, following Friday’s devastating terrorist attacks in Paris, the closing of France’s border and a tightening of the broader EU borders, several lawmakers and politicians in the United States are calling President Obama’s migrant plan into question, with homeland security the chief concern.
In the aftermath of Friday’s attacks in Paris, several states have either halted accepting any more migrants or called into question the legitimacy of President Obama’s migrant pledge. Michigan, Texas and Alabama will refuse any more Syrian refugees attempting to relocate to their states. Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan, a state with a large Arab-American population, said the state would not be accepting any more Syrian refugees until federal officials implement effective security screenings — a process that has been heavily criticized for its ineffectiveness. Michigan’s “first priority is protecting the safety of our residents,” Gov. Snyder said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered state officials to stop accepting any more Syrians into the state as part of the resettlement program. Abbott also wrote a letter to the White House urging President Obama to scrap the migrant program, citing ineffective security screenings and measures. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley echoed Gov. Abbott’s sentiments while declaring that the state will refuse to participate in resettling Syrian refugees. “I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way,” Gov. Bentley said.
The announcements come in light of news that at least one attacker in Paris entered the European Union via Greece. Fingerprints taken by French officials match those taken by Greece border officials. The news calls into question just how many violent, religiously motivated extremists have taken advantage of the EU’s refugee program to enter Western Europe. With the United States preparing to take on an increasing amount of Syrian refugees, it’s not difficult to imagine the potential parallels.
Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois said Monday that the state will “temporarily suspend accepting new Syrian refugees and consider all of our legal options pending a full review of the process by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” Though not all governors have fully suspended Syrian refugee programs in their states. Pennsylvania will continue accepting and vetting new Syrian refugees into the state. Gov. Tom Wolf said he would continue working with the federal government to provide resettlement opportunities to refugees.
As tensions grow both domestically and abroad after the Paris attacks (and earlier attacks in Lebanon), the Obama administration will face growing pressure from politicians on the refugee plan. After claiming responsibility for the attacks in Paris, ISIS has threatened Washington D.C. and New York. There’s no question that security measures need to be reevaluated after such threats are made, especially after successful attacks in the world’s most visited city.