US Governors Say No To Syrian Refugees
More than half of US governors have said they are no longer willing to accept Syrian refugees in the wake of the deadly Paris attacks.
Some 31 governors, including one Democrat, have said it is too dangerous to let in people from the war-torn country, where the Islamic State group is based.
In an open letter to President Barack Obama, Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote: “Neither you nor any federal official can guarantee that Syrian refugees will not be part of any terroristic activity.”
One Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, also urged the Obama administration to stop taking in Syrians. She is in a tough fight for a Senate seat against a Republican incumbent.
It is unclear what authority governors have to stop refugees from entering their states, according to legal experts.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan joined them on Tuesday calling for a “pause” in the White House programme to settle Syrian refugees in the US.
The United States admitted 1,682 Syrian refugees in the federal fiscal year that ended on 30 September.
Texas, California and Michigan accepted the largest number of people fleeing the more than four-year civil war.
The Obama administration announced in September it planned to take in an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees in the coming year.
Speaking to reporters at the G20 Summit in Turkey on Monday, Mr Obama indicated that plan would not change.
He said: “Many of these refugees are victims of terrorism themselves. Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values.”
Mr Obama continues to face some criticism, mostly from conservatives and others who believe the US is not doing enough to combat IS.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said on Sunday his state would not accept refugees “until the US Department of Homeland Security completes a full review of security clearances and procedures”.
“We are importing terrorism.”
The move by the US governors also comes on the heels of a new online video believed to have been created by IS militants in which the group says it will “strike America at its centre in Washington”.
The White House on Tuesday sought to offer assurances on the refugee vetting process.
Amy Pope, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor, wrote: “The President’s number one priority – and my focus every day – is the safety and security of the American people.”
She added: “We continue to examine options for further enhancements for screening Syrian refugees, the details of which are classified.”