“That’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion,” President Obama said angrily as he criticized Republicans for suggesting the United States should stop accepting Syrian refugees.
Vital Survival Reports:
At least nine governors say they will not accept Syrian refugees in their states in response to Friday’s attacks in Paris.
The Republican governors — in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Massachusetts, and Texas — say their top concern must be the safety of state residents, and they say there’s a chance the refugees include people with terrorist ties.
“I just signed an Executive Order instructing state agencies to take all available steps to stop the relocation of Syrian refugees to LA.,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal tweeted on Monday.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a statement saying the plan to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States is “is not the right strategy.”
And Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker told reporters at a State House event Monday, “No, I’m not interested in accepting refugees from Syria,” according to the Boston Globe.
“My view on this is the safety and security of the people of the Commonwealth of Mass. is my highest priority,” he added. “So I would set the bar very high on this.”
Despite such reactions, President Obama is continuing with plans to accept refugees from Syria. Responding to calls to admit Christians but not Muslims into the country, he said, “That’s shameful. That’s not American, it’s not who we are.”
“We don’t have religious tests to our compassion,” he said, speaking from the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey.
But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a letter to the president that, “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.”
One refugee advocacy organization said the governors are setting themselves up for a discrimination lawsuit.
“You can’t restrict certain nationalities coming to your state,” said Jen Smyers, director of policy and advocacy with the Immigration and Refugee Program at Church World Service.
Michigan had been actively working to attract Syrian refugees to the state, but Gov. Rick Snyder said Monday he is suspending that program.
“Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration,” Snyder said in the statement. “But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents.”
His reversal drew immediate and divisive reactions across the nation on Sunday, but especially in metro Detroit, home to one of the largest Middle Eastern populations in the nation.
Detroit-area Arab-American leaders and refugee advocates said Sunday they understand the governor’s concern about security, but argued the Department of Homeland Security already does extensive security checks before allowing any refugees into the U.S.
“The United States should be a safe haven,” said Dr. Yahya Basha, a Syrian-American advocate from West Bloomfield, Mich., who has family members who are refugees. He was at the White House recently to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis with U.S. officials: “We should welcome them.”
More Syrian refugees were expected in Michigan in coming months, but Snyder’s decision could bring an end to that.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence issued a statement saying his state “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.. Unless and until the state of Indiana receives assurances that proper security measures are in place, this policy will remain in full force and effect.”
At least 132 people were killed and hundreds injured in a series of attacks that took place around Paris on Friday evening. Several of the attackers have been identified as French citizens. According to French prosecutors, a bomber who targeted the national stadium was found with a Syrian passport.
(H/T Opposing Views)