A slew of states said Monday that they will not accept refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria, in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris that left at least 129 people dead.
At least six states on Monday followed the lead of Alabama on Michigan, whose Republican governors said Sunday that they would not allow Syrian refugees to resettle in their states.
On Monday, the Republican governor-led states of Massachusetts, Indiana, Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas all said they would not accept refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict.
One of the suspected attackers in Paris was reportedly found with a Syrian passport, though its authenticity has not been confirmed.
In a letter to President Barack Obama, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said he had already directed his state’s refugee resettlement commission to refuse refugees coming from Syria.
“I urge you, as president, to halt your plans to allow Syrians to be resettled anywhere in the United States. Neither you nor any federal official can guarantee that Syrian refugees will not be part of any terroristic activity. As such, opening our door to them irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans to unacceptable peril,” Abbott said in the letter.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), a presidential candidate, called on Obama to halt refugee resettlement until he discloses the screening and monitoring process for refugees attempting to enter the US.
“Last week, the city of New Orleans began receiving its first wave of Syrian refugees. As with former immigration crises and federal relocation policy, Louisiana has been kept in the dark about those seeking refuge in the state. 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,” Jindal said in a letter to Obama.
“It would be prudent to pause the process of refugees coming to the United States.”
Several other Republican presidential candidates, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), have urged limits on Syrian refugee resettlement in the US in the wake of the attacks. For his part, Cruz said the US should only accept Christian refugees fleeing the conflict.
“It makes no sense whatsoever to for us to be bringing in refugees who our intelligence cannot determine if they are terrorists here to kill us or not. Those who are fleeing persecution should be resettled in the Middle East and majority Muslim countries,” Cruz said. “Now, on the other hand, Christians who are being targeted for genocide or persecution, Christians who are being beheaded or crucified, we should be providing safe haven to them.”
And former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said that if newly minted House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) isn’t willing to block funding for Syrian-refugee resettlement, he should immediately resign.
Some Republicans in Congress have already begun moving to block the administration’s plan to allow an additional number of Syrian refugees to be admitted to the US, though Democrats have so far vowed to oppose measures that would block the plan.
For his part, Obama said in a press conference on Monday that the US would continue to work to expand the number of Syrian refugees the US admits.
“The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism, they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife,” Obama said. “It is very important … that we do not close our hearts to the victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.”
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