UPDATE: 3:30 p.m. EST -- U.S. resettlement of Syrian refugees became a clear political issue Monday among Democrats and Republicans, as leaders reacted to the terror attacks that left more than 120 people dead and injured over 350 others last Friday. At least 14 states with Republican governors announced their opposition to a federal program resettling thousands of refugees throughout the country, the latest being North Carolina, Arizona and Florida.
— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) November 16, 2015
New Hampshire, which has a Democratic governor, also came out against continued resettlement of Syrian refugees. The leaders cited fears that terrorists with plans to do harm to Americans might be posing as migrants. European nations have already accepted tens of thousands of Syrian refugees since the outbreak of a civil war four years ago.
Democratic governors in Vermont and Connecticut said they would keep their states open to migrants fleeing civil war and conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. The Obama administration announced in September its willingness to take in at least 10,000 Syrians over the next year. Approximately 2,000 have already arrived in the U.S., including in some of states where governors now want the resettlement program halted.
UPDATE: 2:15 p.m. EST -- Officials in Connecticut said Monday that they will keep a pledge to accept more than 1,600 refugees fleeing terrorism in war-torn Syria, despite growing concerns among other states about safety risks to citizens. Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut said the state's commitment was "a small number" that officials "could do a lot of security background checks and that sort of thing,” NBC Connecticut reported.
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, also said Monday that his state would not turn its back on Syrian refugees and criticized those who had announced their opposition. “The governors who are taking those actions are stomping on the qualities that make America great, which is reaching out to folks when they’re in trouble and offering them help, not hurting them,” Shumlin said, according to the Burlington Free Press.
The Democrats' statements comes amid promises from at least 15 Republican governors to halt their states' participation in a federal refugee program resettling Syrians throughout the U.S. Leaders in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan and Texas, among others, have stated their opposition to further resettlements, following the deadly Islamic State terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts said Monday the his state would oppose letting Syrian refugees in until the Obama administration clarified how they are being screened. "I’m going to set the bar really high,” Baker said, according to the Enterprise newspaper. “My view on this is that the safety and security of the people of the commonwealth of Mass is my highest priority.”
Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois also announced Monday that Illinois would temporarily stop accepting Syrian refugees. "We must find a way to balance our tradition as a state welcoming of refugees while ensuring the safety and security of our citizens," Rauner said, according the Chicago Tribune.
UPDATE: 12:00 p.m. EST -- Gov. Bobby Jindal, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, issued an executive order Monday to stop the state from resettling Syrian refugees in Louisiana. The governor's order came amid similar announcements by U.S. state officials following Friday's deadly terror attacks in Paris carried out by affiliates of the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria.
I just signed an Executive Order instructing state agencies to take all available steps to stop the relocation of Syrian refugees to LA.
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) November 16, 2015
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence also announced the suspension of a program settling Syrians in his state, "pending assurances from the federal government that proper security measures have been achieved," he said in a statement reported by ABC News. "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."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has informed U.S. President Barack Obama that the Lone Star State will not accept any refugees from Syria in light of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday. Given that at least one of the Paris attackers reportedly posed as a migrant in Greece among the tens of thousands fleeing violence in Syria and Iraq, Abbott has also called on Obama to “halt your plans” to resettle Syrians anywhere in the U.S.
“American humanitarian compassion could be exploited to expose Americans to ... deadly danger,” Abbott, a fierce Republican critic of Obama, wrote in a letter to the president released Monday. He added: “The threat posed to Texas by [the Islamic State] is very real.”
BREAKING: Texas will not accept any Syrian refugees & I demand the U.S. act similarly. Security comes first. https://t.co/uE34eluXYd
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) November 16, 2015
In his letter, Abbott linked a few terror-related Texas incidents, including a May attack by two “terrorist gunmen” in Garland, Texas, to extremists working with Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. As European leaders assessed the gun and bombing attacks that killed 129 people and injured more than 350 throughout Paris, Abbott and other U.S. state officials want the Obama administration to rethink a plan to take in thousands of refugees in the next fiscal year.
In September, Obama said the U.S. was willing to take in at least 10,000 Syrians, as Europe grappled with a major migrant crisis stemming from war and civil conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. Approximately 2,000 Syrians refugees already have been resettled in the country since the beginning of the Syrian civil war four years ago through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, a federal initiative working with all 50 states.
Abbott has instructed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's Refugee Resettlement Program not to accept any Syrian refugees in the state, according to his letter. “Neither you nor any federal official can guarantee that Syrian refugees will not be part of any terroristic activity,” Abbott wrote to Obama. “As such, opening our door to them irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans to unacceptable peril.”
Reacting to the Paris attacks, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley also announced in a statement Sunday that he would oppose the relocation of any Syrian refugees to his state.
I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way. We refuse Syrian refugees. https://t.co/HTpflJUiPc
— Gov. Robert Bentley (@GovernorBentley) November 16, 2015
Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan also announced Sunday that the state would not relocate refugees from the war-torn country. "Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration," Snyder said in a statement. "But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents."
The governor of Arkansas also stated via Twitter Monday his opposition to resettlement of Syrian refugees.
As Governor I will oppose Syrian refugees being relocated to Arkansas.
— Gov. Asa Hutchinson (@AsaHutchinson) November 16, 2015