As of Tuesday, 27 governors have moved to try to block Syrian refugees from entering the nation or their respective states. Among the group are those who cast votes for the Iraq War, which many observers -- including Democratic presidential candidates -- say helped fuel the very terrorism that the refugees are fleeing.
Congressional voting records show that four Republican governors -- Nathan Deal of Georgia, Mike Pence of Indiana, Butch Otter of Idaho and Sam Brownback of Kansas -- each served in Congress during the debate over the 2002 resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq and voted in favor of it. Following the attacks in Paris, all of them have issued statements saying they oppose granting entry to Syrian refugees fleeing ISIS. Many experts, including some Iraq War proponents, believe the war those governors backed ultimately helped fuel that terrorist group.
Three other Republican governors -- Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- served in the Bush administration while it was pushing the Iraq War, and all three are now also working to block entry to refugees. Jindal has publicly said he backed the Iraq War. Christie -- who has said he opposes allowing even child orphan refugees into the U.S. -- has said that when it came to the Iraq War, George W. Bush "made the best decision he could at the time" but has also said he would not have supported that war knowing what we know now.
The Republican governors' statements after the Paris attacks suggest that allowing Syrian refugees into the country could create a terrorist threat inside the United States. On Monday, a European Commission security official said of the Paris attacks that "the profile of the terrorists so far identified tells us this is an internal threat" and that the suspects are "all EU citizens so far" -- not refugees.
On the Democratic side, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has said his state will accept Syrian refugees. He voted against the Iraq War while serving in the U.S. House. Similarly, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who voted against the Iraq War, and Hillary Clinton -- who voted for the Iraq War -- both have said they believe the United States should welcome Syrian refugees. Clinton had previously said the U.S. should deport child refugees fleeing violence in Central America.
The United States has accepted more than 84,000 Iraqi refugees since 2007, according to the federal government. But the Los Angeles Times reports that when it comes to Syria, “the number of asylum seekers permitted to resettle in the United States in recent years pales in comparison with the refuge granted by even the most unwelcoming countries of Europe.” The newspaper notes that “in the latest year for which Homeland Security statistics are available, the fiscal year ending in 2013, the number of Syrians granted U.S. asylum was 36.” In all, roughly 1,900 Syrian refugees have resettled in the United States.