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Republican Governors are Refusing Syrian Refugees

Turkey Hosts The G20 World Leader's SummitTurkey Hosts The G20 World Leader's Summit
President Barack Obama at the G20 meeting in Turkey where he addressed the Syrian refugees crisis. Photograph by Chris McGrath—Getty Images

In September the White House said it would accept 10,000 refugees from Syria. But after authorities uncovered clues that tied the perpetrators of Friday’s terror attacks in Paris to the war-torn country, at least nine Republican governors have said they will refuse to take part in the U.S.’s efforts to resettle Syrians.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday sent a letter to President Barack Obama stating that his state would not accept any refugees from Syria in the wake of the terrorist attacks that killed at least 129. “Further, I—and millions of Americans—implore you to halt your plans to accept more Syrian refugees in the United States,” Abbott said in his letter. “A Syrian ‘refugee’ appears to have been part of the Paris terror attack. American humanitarian compassion could be exploited to expose Americans to similar deadly danger. The reasons for such concerns are plentiful.” He listed the threats that ISIS poses to his state, including two gunmen’s attack in Garland, Texas in May. The extremist group claimed credit for the incident.

Likewise, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said on Sunday that he would not let Syrian refugees relocate to his state. There’s one U.S. State Department approved refugee processing center in Mobile, Alabama. A statement from Bentley’s office said that the state hasn’t accepted any Syrian refugees yet, but neighboring states have processed some Syrian refugees. Bentley said his decision was was aimed at protecting Alabamians from “even the slightest, possible risk of an attack.”

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder halted his state’s intake of Syrian refugees Sunday until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reviewed its procedures, though on Monday he okayed the resettlement of Syrians who were already on their way to Michigan.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal also said he would suspend Syrian refugee resettlement in his state, as did Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida and Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts.

Starting in October 2011 through November 10, the United States received 2,131 Syrian refugees, with about 1,800 of them coming since the beginning of 2015, according to State Department figures. And even after the Paris attacks, President Obama is standing firm in his commitment to accept more.

At the Group of 20 summit in Turkey on Monday, Obama said that the public must remember that many Syrian refugees are themselves the victims of terrorism. “Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values,” he said. “Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.”