Half of the US governors have said they are no longer willing to accept Syrian refugees following the Paris attacks.
Governors from 26 states cite security concerns in their decision to block additional refugees from entering their states.
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The 26 states, of which 25 have Republican governors, announced their opposition to the program Monday after Western authorities claimed that at least one of the Paris attacks’ suspects entered Europe among the current wave of Syrian refugees.
“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,” said Governor Greg Abbott of the large southern state in a letter to Obama on Monday.
“I will do everything humanly possible to stop any plans from the Obama administration to put Syrian refugees in Mississippi,” added that state’s governor, Phil Bryant.
Some of the state officials say they either oppose accepting any refugees being relocated as part of a national program or demanded that they be especially scrutinized as potential security threats.
President Barack Obama reacted sharply, criticizing “shameful” calls to screen the refugees based on their religion.
The United States has accepted only 1,500 Syrian refugees since 2011, however, the Obama administration announced in September that 10,000 Syrians will be taken in 2016.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Monday that “defeating ISIS involves projecting American ideals to the world. Governors who reject those fleeing war and persecution abandon our ideals and instead project our fears to the world.”
Also, American University law professor Stephen I. Vladeck said, “Legally, states have no authority to do anything because the question of who should be allowed in this country is one that the Constitution commits to the federal government.”
However, Vladeck noted that this would make the process difficult as states “can refuse to cooperate.”