More than half the nation’s governors have said that in light of the Paris attacks on Friday, they will refuse to accept Syrian refugees in their states.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory was one of the 27 governors to make a formal statement saying he opposes the admittance of Syrian refugees to the state.
My 1st priority is to protect the people of NC. That is why I am requesting federal gov’t cease sending Syrian refugees to our state #ncpol— Pat McCrory (@PatMcCroryNC) November 16, 2015
But according to Lavinia Limon, president and CEO of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, this may not be as easy as they think.
“When refugees come to the U.S., they are legal residents of the U.S. As such, they may move wherever they wish in the U.S. without governor’s permission,” Limon said. “To be admitted into the United States and then have an elected official discriminate against you on the basis of your race and ethnicity is pretty amazing.”
The only potential option open to the governors is to refuse to accept and administer the funds allocated by the federal government for refugee settlement. In that situation, the government would find another agency to administer the funds, Limon said.
Limon also said concerns about security regarding refugees are unfounded, and that the screening processes for refugees seeking residence in the U.S. are more stringent than any security measures for tourists, students or businesspeople.
“No refugee has ever committed a terrorist act on our soil,” Limon said. “I really think that the fear that seems to be the galvanizing force behind the governor’s statements seems to be misplaced.”
According to Limon, refugees go through several screening processes including in-person interviews.
“Every intelligence agency in the U.S. is involved in screening these people,” she said. “After the interview, if the refugee is approved to come to the United States, the screening process continues the entire time.”
McCrory, in contrast, posted a tweet on Monday expressing concerns about terrorists posing as refugees.
From Sept 2015 report by Homeland Security Committee Task Force on Combatting Terrorist & Foreign Fighter Travel: pic.twitter.com/3AyfI6w6eh— Pat McCrory (@PatMcCroryNC) November 16, 2015
Jennie Belle, a representative from the North Carolina Council of Churches, said she also believes that refugees pose a minimal security risk and should be accepted in North Carolina.
“From our perspective, just because these Syrian refugees are coming doesn’t mean they’re bringing terrorism with them; they are fleeing terrorism,” Belle said. “People are focusing on the attacks that happened recently in Paris, and these people live in countries where attacks and brutality happens all the time.”
Linda Hartke, president of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said the U.S. has historically sheltered the most vulnerable refugees: widows, the elderly and small children, and to discontinue this now would be “un-American.”
“To close the door on resettling Syrian refugees would be nothing less than signing a death warrant for tens of thousands of families fleeing for their lives,” Hartke said. “We must not bow to the fear that ISIS spreads.”
Hartke expressed concern that governors are acting based on “fear rather than facts.”
“This is what groups like ISIS who want to hurt the Unites States want. They want to see our communities torn apart. They want to see people be afraid,” she said. “If ISIS had hoped the attacks in Paris would provoke the United States and their allies to small-minded panic, then the United States governors are helping them.”
Limon summed up her opinion on the governor’s opposition of Syrian immigrant settlement in one sentence:
“The governors creating this poisonous atmosphere against one nationality is really disturbing.”
Republican presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich, Ohio, was among the governors to refuse Syrian refugees.
The security of Americans must come first. https://t.co/7XB82F6SGL— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) November 16, 2015
Gov. Kasich says NO to new Syrian refugees in Ohio. https://t.co/cBvy2YCL3m— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) November 16, 2015
Other candidates have also voiced their opinions on this issue (who knew they had opinions?).
Refugees from Syria are now pouring into our great country. Who knows who they are - some could be ISIS. Is our president insane?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2015
We've seen a lot of hateful rhetoric from the GOP. But the idea that we'd turn away refugees because of religion is a new low. -H— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 17, 2015
Tell Congress to defund the Obama Administration's plan to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees into America. Click here: https://t.co/GVfCtJnbO2— Dr. Ben Carson (@RealBenCarson) November 16, 2015
During these difficult times, we will not succumb to Islamophobia. We will not turn our backs on refugees. https://t.co/Js605pOLbx— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 17, 2015
And some took the chance to voice their opinions on other matters.
I, along with almost everyone else, have so little confidence in President Obama. He has a horrible attitude-a man who is resigned to defeat— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2015
McCrory, however, just went back to cheering on the Panthers.
@PatMcCroryNC let's talk about these toll roads— but...but...QBR!!! (@AJ_Actual) November 15, 2015
At least everyone agrees it’s important to focus on football.
Tom Brady just did it again. He is not only a great guy, he is, without question, the BEST quarterback!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2015
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