Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Republican governors are refusing Syrian refugees following the Paris attacks

Governors in 27 states say Syrian refugees are unwelcome

Justin Carissimo
New York
Monday 16 November 2015 15:45 GMT
People walk with their belongings across the Syrian border town of Kobani.
People walk with their belongings across the Syrian border town of Kobani. (Getty)

In the wake of the terror attacks that killed 129 and injured more than 300 people in Paris, Republican governors across the states are denying Syrian refugees entry to their states. The announcements are in direct contrast with the Obama administration's promise to relocate 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016. President Barack Obama said on Monday that "slamming the doors in [refugees] faces would be a betrayal of our values" during a speech at the G20 summit in Turkey.

“The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism. They are parents, they are children, they are orphans,” he said. “It is very important that we do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.”

However, Republicans across the country were unmoved by the president's speech. Governors voiced their mounting concerns despite obtaining little to no constitutional power to refuse the resettlement of Syrian immigrants

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey
“Given the horrifying events in Paris last week, I am calling for an immediate halt in the placement of any new refugees in Arizona. As governor, I am invoking our state’s right under 8 USC, Section 1522 (a), to receive immediate consultation by federal authorities per the United States Refugee Act, and that the federal government take into account the concerns and recommendations of the state of Arizona as they are required to under federal law, in our efforts to keep our homeland safe.

“I also call on Congress and the President to immediately amend federal law to provide states greater oversight and authority in the administration of the placement of refugees. These acts serve as a reminder that the world remains at war with radical Islamic terrorists. Our national leaders must react with the urgency and leadership that every American expects to protect our citizens.”

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
“After full consideration of this weekend’s attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. As your Governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way,” Governor Bentley said in a statement.

"I will not place Alabamians at even the slightest, possible risk of an attack on our people."

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson
"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 hardships facing these refugees and their families are beyond most of our understanding, and my thoughts and prayers are with them, but I will not support a policy that is not the best solution and that poses risk to Arkansans."

Florida Governor Rick Scott
"Please be aware that several organizations have requested that our state Department of Children and Families support the relocation of 425 possible Syrian refugees to Florida, as they receive federal funding to house those refugees in our state.”

“Following the terrorist attacks by ISIS in Paris that killed over 120 people and wounded more than 350, and the news that at least one of the terror attack suspects gained access to France by posing a Syrian refugee, our state agency will not support the requests we have received."

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal
“In light of the terror attacks in Paris, I’ve issued an executive order directing state agency heads to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Georgia,” he said in a statement.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback
“My first priority as Governor is the safety of all Kansans. We must take immediate action to ensure terrorists do not enter the nation or our state under the guise of refugee resettlement. The recent attacks in Paris coupled with terrorist organizations indicating a desire to attack the United States are stark reminders of the dangers every nation faces.

“It is imperative that we take action where the White House has not.

“I have therefore directed all state agencies, departments, boards or commissions not to participate or assist in the relocation of Syrian refugees to Kansas. It is unfortunate that we must take this step to protect the safety of Kansans, but the federal government cannot guarantee that Syrian refugees coming to America would not be part of a terrorist organization seeking to harm our citizens.

“America has always provided a refuge for the oppressed and those who seek freedom. However, we must be sure that we are not admitting terrorists as we try to help the innocents who desire the opportunity for a better life and the basic liberty of religious freedom. Most people seeking refugee status are peaceful individuals looking for a better life. But we cannot allow an influx of Syrian refugees, without any meaningful security checks, while ISIS is promising to infiltrate the refugee process.

“Our resources can be better used to help persecuted Syrians. We must consider whether refugees fleeing the persecution of their home country may be better served by resettlement in a friendly nation closer to their homes. Though America will continue to be a country that defends the oppressed, our allies in the region must also step up to stem the tide of this humanitarian crisis.”

Kentucky Governor Elect Matt Bevin
"The recent terrorist attacks in Paris serve as a warning to the entire civilized world that we must remain vigilant. It is imperative that we do everything in our power to prevent any similar attack by evildoers from taking place here in America.

My primary responsibility as Governor of Kentucky will be to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth. This is why I am joining with other governors across the country in opposing the resettlement of Syrian nationals until we can better determine the full extent of any risks to our citizens."

“The thoughts and prayers of the First Lady and I are with the People of France as they mourn those killed in Friday’s despicable terrorist attack in Paris. As Franco-Americans, we say with a special conviction, ‘nous n'oublierons jamais—‘we will never forget.’”

Maine Governor Paul R LePage
"We now know that not only has ISIS claimed credit for this attack, but at least one of the attackers was a Syrian refugee. We also know that President Barack Obama has vowed to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States, despite his own FBI director testifying to Congress last month that the federal government is unable to conduct background checks on them.

"To bring Syrian refugees into our country without knowing who they are is to invite an attack on American soil just like the one we saw in Paris last week and in New York City on 9/11. That is why I adamantly oppose any attempt by the federal government to place Syrian refugees in Maine, and will take every lawful measure in my power to prevent it from happening.

"The safety of Maine citizens comes first, and it is about time the United States and Europe wake up to the nature of the threat against us in the form of radical terrorism.”

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker
"I would say no as of right now. No, I’m not interested in accepting refugees from Syria."

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder
“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. Given the terrible situation in Paris, I've directed that we put on hold our efforts to accept new refugees until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security completes a full review of security clearances and procedures.

“There will be difficult days ahead for the people of France and Lebanon, and they remain in our thoughts and prayers. It's also important to remember that these attacks are the efforts of extremists and do not reflect the peaceful ways of people of Middle Eastern descent here and around the world.”

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, Democrat
"My first priority is to protect the safety of the people of Minnesota. I have been assured by the White House that all refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States.”

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant
"I’m currently working with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and Mississippi Office of Homeland Security to determine the current status of any Syrian refugees that may be brought to our state in the near future. I will do everything humanly possible to stop any plans from the Obama administration to put Syrian refugees in Mississippi," he said in a statement.

"The policy of bringing these individuals into the country is not only misguided, it is extremely dangerous. I’ll be notifying President Obama of my decision today to resist this potential action."

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts
“Dear Resettlement Agencies:

“I am writing to advise you that in light of the terrorist attacks in Paris my administration opposes efforts to resettle Syrian refugees in Nebraska until security concerns have been fully addressed. While it is my understanding that no Syrian refugees have been resettled in Nebraska to date, I am requesting that your organization and all refugee resettlement agencies in our state decline to participate in potential resettlement efforts.

“Nebraska is a welcoming place for families seeking a home to live, work, and raise a family. My administration understands the danger and persecution many are facing in the Middle East, however, it is important that our state consider the safety and security of Nebraskans first in any refugee resettlement efforts. The terrorist attacks that occurred over the weekend in Paris are a solemn reminder of the reach and strength of ISIS and their agents. As ISIS has grown in strength in the Middle East, it appears that they have successfully recruited or dispatched members of their organization outside the region.

“Subsequent news that at least one of the suicide bombers in Paris was a Syrian, who had traveled to France via Greece, has highlighted the necessity of taking every precaution to ensure that refugees originating from Syria do not have ties to ISIS or other terrorist organizations.

“Until the Department of Homeland Security has conducted a full review of security screening measures and taken every necessary step to strengthen them, my administration will oppose any effort to resettle Syrian refugees in our state.

“Very shortly, I will be sharing a similar letter with President Obama urging him to end resettlement efforts until these concerns have been addressed. I have also instructed the

“Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to oppose any potential resettlement efforts in our state.

“Once again, I urge your organization not to pursue efforts to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States until our country has surveyed and addressed these concerns.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
“I don’t think [Syrian] orphans under 5 are being, you know, should be admitted into the United States at this point. But you know, they have no family here. How are we going to care for these folks?”

“The fact is, you can come up with a number of different scenarios, Hugh. But in the end, I don’t trust this administration to effectively vet the people that they’re asking us to take in. We need to put the safety and security of the American people first," he told conservative radio host Howard Hewitt, according to Politico.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval
“Like many of my fellow governors, I am concerned first and foremost with the security of my state in the aftermath of Friday’s tragic events in Paris. It is in the interest of all Nevadans and the millions who travel to our state annually to insist on extensive evaluations of any potential risk individuals may pose to Nevada or our national security. Earlier today, I asked state agencies to help determine the total number of refugees currently in Nevada.

"I have also contacted the White House and will follow up with a letter to President Obama requesting a review of the refugee eligibility, security, funding and notification processes for resettlement programs conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U. S. State Department and related agencies. We must balance our nation's role as an international leader with the safety and security of our citizens and visitors.”

In a letter to President Obama, he requested that no additional Syrian refugees be resettled in his state.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory
“North Carolina has a proud tradition of providing a hand-up for those in need, including international refugees. However, because President Obama has increased the number of refugees from Syria coming into the United States from 2,000 to 10,000 and because of the terrorist attacks in Paris and the very real possibility that one of the terrorists entered France as a recent refugee, I am requesting that the federal government cease sending refugees from Syria to North Carolina," he wrote in a statement.

“My primary duty as governor is to protect the citizens of North Carolina, which is why I am taking the steps I have outlined today."

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple
"First and foremost, we need to make sure our citizens are safe and secure. State officials are in contact with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and have called upon the department to make absolutely sure that all refugees receive the highest level of background and security screening before consideration for resettlement."

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley
"Until I can be assured that all potential refugees from Syria have no ties to terrorist organizations, I am requesting that the State Department not resettle any Syrian refugees in South Carolina."

Ohio Governor John Kasich
"The governor doesn’t believe the U.S. should accept additional Syrian refugees because security and safety issues cannot be adequately addressed," Governor Kasich's office said in a statement. "The governor is writing to the President to ask him to stop, and to ask him to stop resettling them in Ohio. We are also looking at what additional steps Ohio can take to stop resettlement of these refugees.”

Indiana Governor Mike Pence
“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. Indiana has a long tradition of opening our arms and homes to refugees from around the world but, as governor, my first responsibility is to ensure the safety and security of all Hoosiers. Unless and until the state of Indiana receives assurances that proper security measures are in place, this policy will remain in full force and effect.”

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner
“Our nation and our state have a shared history of providing safe haven for those displaced by conflict, but the news surrounding the Paris terror attacks reminds us of the all-too-real security threats facing America. We must find a way to balance our tradition as a state welcoming of refugees while ensuring the safety and security of our citizens. Therefore, the state of Illinois will temporarily suspend accepting new Syrian refugees and consider all of our legal options pending a full review of our country’s acceptance and security processes by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
"I just signed an Executive Order instructing state agencies to take all available steps to stop the relocation of Syrian refugees to LA," Governor Jindal announced on Twitter.

"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," he wrote in the order.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott
"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," Governor Abbott said in a letter to the White House. "Effective today, I am directing the Texas Health & Human Services Commission's Refugee Resettlement Program to not participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the State of Texas. And I urge you, as President, to halt your plans to allow Syrians to be resettled anywhere in the United States."

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
"In light of these horrific and tragic attacks, our first priority must be to protect our citizens. Along with governors across the country, I have deep concerns about the Obama Administration’s plan to accept 10,000 or more Syrian refugees, especially given that one of the Paris attackers was reportedly a Syrian refugee. In consultation with our Adjutant General, who also serves as my Homeland Security Advisor, it is clear that the influx of Syrian refugees poses a threat.

"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.

"There may be those who will try to take advantage of the generosity of our country and the ability to move freely within our borders through this federal resettlement program, and we must ensure we are doing all we can to safeguard the security of Americans.

"Furthermore, I am opposed to recently introduced legislation encouraging the state to accept Syrian refugees in Wisconsin."

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in