Governors across the country today are weighing in on how their states will respond to refugees fleeing Syria following a terrorist attack in Paris that was linked to the Islamic State extremist group — and where authorities reportedly found a Syrian passport near the body of a suicide bomber.
Today, Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper said:
“A few short days ago we witnessed another senseless act of terrorism. Our hearts go out to the families, friends and loved ones of those lost and injured in Paris, and in other acts of terror around the world. Our first priority remains the safety of our residents. We will work with the federal government and Homeland Security to ensure the national verification processes for refugees are as stringent as possible. We can protect our security and provide a place where the world’s most vulnerable can rebuild their lives.”
So far more than a dozen governors, most of them Republicans, have said they want to close their state borders to refugees from Syria. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe both, Democrats, however, have said their states will continue accepting refugees.
Colorado Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton said in a statement today he wants to stop refugees from Syria from entering the United States.
President Barack Obama said the United States would continue to accept refugees and called efforts to screen those fleeing Syria based on their religion “shameful.”
In September, Colorado “was preparing to help” as refugees left Syria and other countries in the Middle East, according to CBS Denver.
“We have a booming economy, we have welcoming communities, and we have broad-based support through our social systems,” said Kit Taintor who at the time was quoted as the State Refugee Coordinator with the Colorado Refugee Services Program under the Department of Human Services. “We’ve seen populations from Vietnam, Bosnia, and Rwanda over the years. We’ve traditionally resettled some of the most vulnerable populations and that will include the Syrians as the crisis continues.”
Today an e-mail to Taintor’s government account bounced back, and a phone call to the state refugee program said the coordinator is Carol Tumaylle. Tumaylle didn’t return a voicemail by the time this story was posted.
It is not clear what governors “could actually do to stop refugees from resettling in their states,” according to a story in The Washington Post. “Resettlement applications are handled by the U.S. State Department,” The Post reported. “The process takes between 18 and 24 months, and applicants are screened by the Department of Homeland Security and interviewed before being approved to relocate to the U.S.”
In Louisiana, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is running for president, posted on Twitter that he had signed an executive order “instructing state agencies to take all available steps to stop the relocation of Syrian refugees” to his state. Other presidential candidates had also weighed in.
A story in The Washington Post on responses by multiple U.S. governors about refugees from Syria was the most-read story on the paper’s website this afternoon.