Paris Attacks Syrian Refugees


The terrorist attacks that took place in Paris, France last week have prompted many lawmakers and presidential candidates to call for a halt to the Obama administration's plan to resettle an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. next year.

A passport, reported to be from a Syrian refugee, was found near the body of one of the terrorists that attacked a stadium in Paris. According to the passport the subject entered through Greece and claimed asylum as a refugee.

Just last month FBI director, James Comey, said that the U.S. does not have the ability to thoroughly screen the Syrian refugees for terrorist ties. "My concern there is there are certain gaps ... in the data available to us," Comey said.

In October the Obama administration announced that it would allow 85,000 refugees into the U.S. next year, an increase from the current level of 70,000. The administration promised that at least 10,000 would be from Syria.

Governor Responses:

Currently 29 governors have announced that they will not allow Syrian refugees to be resettled in their states due to security concerns.

The states includes:

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley; Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson; Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey; Florida Gov. Rick Scott; Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal; Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter; Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner; Indiana Gov. Mike Pence; Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad; Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback; Kentucky’s incoming Gov. Matt Bevin; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; Maine Governor Paul LePage; Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder; Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker; Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant; Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts; Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval; New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez; North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory; North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley; Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; Texas Gov. Greg Abbott; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.

  • Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama also decided not to accept Syrian refugees. "I will not place Alabamians at even the slightest, possible risk of an attack on our people,” he responded.
  • Gov. Doug Ducey called for a halt in Syrian refugee resettlement in Arizona. In his statement he wrote that Congress and Pres. Obama should amend federal law "to provide states greater oversight and authority in the administration of the placement of refugees."
  • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson tweeted, "As Governor I will oppose Syrian refugees being relocated to Arkansas."
  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott wrote a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell addressing the issue that the Governors may not have the authority to stop the refugees from coming into their state.

He wrote, "it is our understanding that the state does not have the authority to prevent the federal government from funding the relocation of these Syrian refugees to Florida even without state support…Therefore, we are asking the United States Congress to take immediate and aggressive action to prevent President Obama and his administration from using any federal tax dollars to fund the relocation of up to 425 Syrian refugees."

  • Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal followed Gov. Jindal’s response and issued an executive order” directing state agency heads to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Georgia.” 
  • While Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter called for a halt to the Syrian refugee program until the vetting process can be reviewed he did not say they will stop accepting Syrian refugees. He did ask that states should be able to opt-out of the refugee resettlement program.
  • Illinois Gov. Bruce Raynor joined the group on Monday and said his state would temporarily suspend accepting new Syrian refugees due to security threats.
  • Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana joined the group releasing a statement saying, “In the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris, effective immediately, I am directing all state agencies to suspend the resettlement of additional Syrian refugees in the state of Indiana pending assurances from the federal government that proper security measures have been achieved." 
  • On Monday Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad ordered state agencies to halt any work on Syrian refugee resettlements after the Paris attack. "We must continue to have compassion for others, but we must also maintain the safety of Iowans and the security of our state. Until a thorough and thoughtful review is conducted by the intelligence community and the safety of Iowans can be assured, the federal government should not resettle any Syrian refugees in Iowa,” he said.
  • Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback issued an executive order preventing any state agencies or organizations that receive state grant money from helping relocate Syrian refugees in his state.
  • Incoming Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who will be inaugurated on Dec. 8, said his primary responsibility would be to protect Kentuckians.
  • Presidential candidate and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order to prevent any more Syrian refugees from entering the state

The executive order states:
"All departments, budget units, agencies, offices, entities, and officers of the executive branch of the State of Louisiana are authorized and directed to utilize all lawful means to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the State of Louisiana while this Order is in effect…The Louisiana State Police, upon receiving information of a Syrian refugee already relocated within the State of Louisiana, are authorized and directed to utilize all lawful means to monitor and avert threats within the State of Louisiana."

  •  Maine Governor Paul LePage said in an interview that he would take “every lawful measure” to stop Syrian refugees from entering Maine.
  • Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said he wanted more information from the federal government but would say no “as of right now” on accepting any new Syrian refugees.
  • Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has said they will not accept any Syrian refugees until the Department of Homeland Security reviewed its procedures for accepting migrants.
  • "Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration. But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents,” he said.
  • Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts posted on Twitter that he's “requesting that all refugee resettlement agencies in our state decline to participate in potential Syrian refugee resettlement efforts.”
  • New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan became the first Democratic governor to call for a halt to the Syrian refugee resettlement plan until the vetting process is reviewed.
  • GOP Presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he will not admit any Syrian refugees into the state, not even “orphans under age 5”.
  • New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says she is opposed to the Obama administrations’ plan to accept any more Syrian refugees until there is a clear plan in place to properly vet them.
  • Gov. Pat McCrory from North Carolina sent out a statement asking for “greater verification” from the federal government that the Syrian refugees would not pose any safety risks for the state’s residents.
  • North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple cited the FBI Director’s warning as a leading reason he opposes accepting the Syrian refugees.” I am deeply concerned about the recent terrorist attacks carried out in France and the potential for this situation to arise in the U.S., especially given the testimony by FBI Director James Comey revealing gaps in the refugee screening system,” he said.
  • Ohio Gov. and GOP presidential candidate, John Kasich called for halting the Syrian refugees from coming to the U.S. "There is no way that we can put any of our people at risk," he said.
  • Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has asked the Obama administration to halt the Syrian refugee program until the vetting process can be reviewed.
  • South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking that no Syrian refugees be settled in South Carolina. “While I agree that the United States should try to assist individuals in such dire situations, it is precisely because of the situation in Syria that makes their admission into the United States a potential threat to our national security. For that reason, I ask that you honor my request and not resettle any Syrian refugees in South Carolina,” she wrote.
  • Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam issued a statement on Monday saying, "Today I'm asking the federal government to suspend placements in Tennessee until states can become more of a partner in the vetting process."
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wrote President Obama a letter on Monday asking him to halt his plans claiming, "given the tragic attacks in Paris and the threats we have already seen, Texas cannot participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees — any one of whom could be connected to terrorism — being resettled in Texas."
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called for a full review of the resettlement program. He wrote in his statement, “With this in mind, I am calling upon the President to immediately suspend the program pending a full review of its security and acceptance procedures.  The State of Wisconsin will not accept new Syrian refugees.”
  • Wyoming Governor Matt Mead joined the group saying, In light of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, I have joined other governors in demanding the refugee process be halted until it is guaranteed to provide the security demanded by Wyoming and United States citizens. I have written the President to make it known Wyoming will not accept a lackluster system that allows terrorists to slip through the cracks.”

Other Responses:

  • During an interview on Monday Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said, “I’ve never been more concerned…I read the intelligence faithfully. ISIL is not contained. ISIL is expanding.”
  • On Tuesday Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) said that ISIS is a national security threat and that we need to have a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS. He added, “I’m not confident we have that right now.”

Presidential Candidates (Candidates who are currently governors will be in the governor response section):

  • During the Democratic debate on Saturday presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, said that she supports taking in more refugees but emphasized only if we have a way to carefully screen and vet the refugees. “I also said that we should take increased numbers of refugees. The administration originally said 10 [thousand]. I said we should go to 65, but only if we have as careful a screening and vetting process as we can imagine, whatever resources it takes because I do not want us to, in any way, inadvertently to allow people who wish us harm to come into our country,” she said.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders said he still supports accepting Syrian refugees though he was not certain of how many the U.S. should take in. He said, “I believe that the United States has the moral responsibility with Europe, with Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, to make sure that when people leave countries like Afghanistan and Syria with nothing more than the clothing on their back that, of course, we reach out. Now, what the magic number is, I don't know...”
  • When asked if these latest attacks would alter his target of 65,000 Syrian refugees Gov. O’Malley responded, “I would want us to take our place among the nations of the world to alleviate this sort of death and the specter we saw of little kids' bodies washing up on a beach.”
  • During an interview on Sunday GOP presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, said there is no way the U.S. can accept any Syrian refugees. “We won’t be able to take more refugees. It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s that we can’t. There’s no way to background check someone’s who is coming from Syria,” he responded.
  • Former Gov. Jeb Bush proposed that the U.S. take in only Christian refugees. “We should focus our efforts as it relates to the Christians that are being slaughtered,” he said.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz agreed with Gov. Bush and told reporters, "There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror. If there were a group of radical Christians pledging to murder anyone who had a different religious view than they, we would have a different national security situation."
  • In response to the Paris attacks GOP presidential candidate, Sen. Lindsey Graham changed his position and is now calling for a “timeout” on accepting new Syrian refugees. "The one thing I’ve learned from Paris is that we need to have a timeout on bringing refugees into this country until we have a system that we think will work. So I’m calling for a timeout on Syrian refugees," he said Monday during an interview with Fox News Radio. Sen. Lindsey Graham has previously said that the U.S. should still take in its “fair share” of Syrian refugees and co-sponsored bill S. 2145: Middle East Refugee Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2016. This bill would provide an additional $1 billion for the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S.
  • Dr. Ben Carson said it would be a “huge mistake” to bring refugees in from that area of the world. “We should use our expertise and resources to help get them resettled — over there — and to support them over there. But to bring them here under these circumstances is a suspension of intellect," he said.
  • On Monday Sen. Rand Paul announced he would introduce legislation calling for an “immediate moratorium” the U.S. issuing visas to refugees from about 30 countries with a “significant jihadist movement.” Sen. Paul told reporters, "The best way to defend the country from attackers that don't really have an army, but come here as individuals, is to prevent their access into this country."

**We will continue to update the list of responses as we receive them.


Updated: Mon, Nov 30th 2015 @ 3:55pm EST