Several US governors refuse to accept Syrian refugees

 17 Nov 2015 - 10:38

Several US governors refuse to accept Syrian refugees
Over 25 state governors say no to Syrian refugees. AFP


Washington: More than half of the governors of America's 50 states have said they won't accept Syrian refugees after one of the Paris attackers allegedly posed as a refugee carrying a Syrian passport.

The central government in Washington said it is planning to improve vetting of refugees to make sure they have no ties to terrorism.

But one of the governors, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, said, "I'm not interested in accepting refugees from Syria. We would have to be very cautious about accepting folks without knowing a lot more about what the federal government's plan looks like."

The US has only accepted 1,900 Syrians as refugees during the four years of the Syrian civil war, far fewer than many countries in Europe and in the region.

Some of those 1,900 refugees have been settled in Massachusetts, Illinois and Texas. All three governors of those states now say they will not accept any more.

Several of the Republican candidates for president also said the door should be closed to Syrians fleeing the war. Senator Ted Cruz said, "Who in their right mind would want to bring over tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, when we cannot determine, when the administration cannot determine, who is and isn't a terrorist?"

Senator Marco Rubio, another Republican presidential candidate said Monday night that Syrian refugees should settle in the Middle East. Lebanon and Jordan alone are already hosting far more Syrians than all of Europe and the United States combined.

Speaking at the G20 summit in Turkey, President Barack Obama said the US would continue accepting Syrian refugees "only after subjecting them to rigorous screening and security checks."

He criticized the governors, saying, "Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values. Our nation can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both."

Cruz, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is also running for president, and media baron Rupert Murdoch went even further, saying that only Christian refugees should be allowed into the United States.

That drew a sharp rebuke from Obama. "We do not have religious tests for our compassion," he said. "That's not who we are."

The State Department said Monday that it was reviewing the legal question of whether states can even refuse refugees or whether it is only up to the central government to decide.

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley said on Saturday, the day after the Paris terrorist attack, that the US should accept up to 65,000 Syrian refugees.