The governors of Alabama, Michigan, Indiana and Texas are among at least a dozen of those challenging Obama over refugees. They are sending a strong message to President Obama saying they won’t allow their states to receive any more Syrian refugees in light of the recent attack in Paris by ISIS. Reports that at least one of the Paris attackers slipped through Europe’s immigration system, as well as concerns about ‘gaping holes’ impacting America’s screening process are the reasons for the decision, stated Fox News Monday
In light of the attacks, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that he sent a letter to President Obama informing him that Texas will not take any Syrian refugees.
“Neither you nor any federal official can guarantee that Syrian refugees will not be part of any terroristic activity,” Abbott wrote. “As such, opening our door to them irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans to unacceptable peril.”
Abbott joins a growing list of governors who have said they will not resettle Syrian refugees. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson tweeted, “As Governor I will oppose Syrian refugees being located to Arkansas.” Michigan has a large Arab-American population. According to Breitbart, Michigan has reportedly taken in roughly 2,000 refugees, 200 of which were Syrian.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said Sunday he was putting his prior calls for accepting more refugees on hold until the Department of Homeland Security reviewed its screening procedures.
“Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration,” Snyder announced in a statement. “But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents.” He added, “It’s also important to remember that these attacks are the efforts of extremists and do not reflect the peaceful ways of people of Middle Eastern descent here and around the world.”
After reports emerged that refugees from Syria were recently taken into his state, GOP presidential candidate Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is looking for answers from the Obama administration.
“Louisiana has been kept in the dark about those seeking refuge in the state,” Jindal stated in a letter to Obama. “It is irresponsible and severely disconcerting to place individuals, who may have ties to ISIS, in a state without the state’s knowledge or involvement. … As governor of Louisiana, I demand information.”
USA Today reports that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence issued a statement saying his state “has a long tradition of opening our arms and homes to refugees from around the world but, as governor, my first responsibility is to ensure the safety and security of all Hoosiers.. Unless and until the state of Indiana receives assurances that proper security measures are in place, this policy will remain in full force and effect.”
Stating that he doesn’t have the authority to keep out certain refugees, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, in a letter to congressional leaders Monday, said organizations have asked his state to support the relocation of 425 possible Syrian refugees and he wants Congress to deny federal funding for that process. “More importantly…it is our understanding that the state does not have the authority to prevent the federal government from funding the relocation of these Syrian refugees to Florida even without state support,” Scott wrote.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said on Sunday there are no plans to settle refugees in his state, or credible terror threats directed at Alabama. But he issued a statement saying he would “not place Alabamians at even the slightest possible risk of an attack on our people.”
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence stated, “In the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris, effective immediately, I am directing all state agencies to suspend the resettlement of additional Syrian refugees in the state of Indiana pending assurances from the federal government that proper security measures have been achieved. Indiana has a long tradition of opening our arms and homes to refugees from around the world but, as governor, my first responsibility is to ensure the safety and security of all Hoosiers. Unless and until the state of Indiana receives assurances that proper security measures are in place, this policy will remain in full force and effect.”
Regardless of what is being said by the Obama administration, the biggest issue with allowing Syrian refugees in is that there is no way to vet them. According to Rep. Peter King, the New York Republican who heads the House Homeland Security intelligence subcommittee, “There’s virtually no vetting because there are no databases in Syria. There are no government records. We don’t know who these people are,” King said on “Fox News Sunday.” He added, “And when you meet with the people doing the vetting, they tell us that.”
Obama maintained during remarks earlier Monday at the G-20 meeting in Turkey that the U.S. would continue to accept the refugees, including Syrians, only after “rigorous” security screenings. “Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values,” he said.
It remains unclear whether individual states can choose whether or not to participate in the refugee resettlement program, given its federal nature. The State Department, which is responsible for the resettlement, said on Monday that it was reviewing whether or not states have the power to pull out.