After the terror attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people, the placement of refugees fleeing Syria has come under scrutiny as at least two dozen governors, mostly Republicans, have raised concerns about Syrian refugees relocating to their state. Nearly 2,000 refugees from Syria have relocated to the United States since 2012.
While the states are asking the federal government to stop sending Syrian refugees to their states, a spokesman for the State Department, Mark Toner, said it’s unclear if it’s legal to ban refugees. He said lawyers are currently looking into it. Toner said refugees from Syria have to undergo an additional screening process and there is no plan to change U.S. policy.
A passport found near of one of the suicide bombers is identified as Ahmad Almohammad. He landed on the Greek island of Leros on October 3 carrying a Syrian passport Greek officials said. Almohammad arrived on a boat from Turkey with 198 others, Greek immigration minister Ioannis Mouzalas said. Fingerprints taken by Greek authorities match one of the three attackers who blew themselves up outside the stadium, Mouzalas said.
Governor Hutchinson’s statement reads as follows: “As governor, I oppose any facility or installation in Arkansas being used as a Syrian refugee center. Many of the Syrian refugees are fleeing violence in their own country but Europe, Asia or Africa are logically the best places for resettlement or for temporary asylum. Syria is a war torn country and the United States will support our European friends in fighting ISIL in Syria and elsewhere; however, this is not the right strategy for the United States to become a permanent place of relocation. Again, I will oppose Arkansas being used as such a relocation center.”
The governors of Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin made similar vows following the attacks.
President Barack Obama is accusing Republicans who oppose allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S. of being scared of widows and orphans. He says the political posturing “needs to stop.”
Obama says he’s open to ideas for enhancing the screening process but adds that’s not what’s happening in the political debate. Barack Obama defended his decision, saying that “slamming the door in their refugees’ faces would be against our values.”