Justice

U.S. States Welcome Syrian Refugees as Others Refuse

As political opposition from over half the nation's governors and several 2016 presidential candidates mounts against accepting Syrian refugees into the U.S., some states are leaving welcome mats out in what they describe as a show of humility and sympathy.

Governors from Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Washington, Oregon, and California, among others, said refugees are still welcome in their states, being careful to highlight the importance of thorough background checks.

Related: u.s. states move to block syrian refugees from asylum

Following attacks in Paris last week by militants linked to the Islamic State, fear has run rampant in Western countries over the potential threats terrorists hiding in the outflow of Syrian refugees could pose. Concern flared after a passport found under the body of one attacker indicated the suspect had traveled with the throngs of refugees passing through Greece. The passport was later found to be suspect, AFP reported.

(So far, none of the attackers have been identified as Syrian.)

Though some state governors and federal legislators said they were against accepting refugees from Syria, they do not necessarily have constitutional authority to actually block incoming refugees.

All states are required to accept refugees

On Monday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said 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," CNN reported.

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In an apparent bow to those ideals, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown tweeted her support of refugees Tuesday.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee posted an audio file of himself speaking about accepting refugees.

In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper said that refugees are welcome, and that the state would work to vet backgrounds, according to the Denver Post.

"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," Hickenlooper said on Monday.

A spokesperson for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf told the Lancaster Online on Monday that "We must not lose sight of the fact that families leaving Syria are trying to escape the same violence and unimaginable terror that took place in Paris and Beirut."

So far, governors of 12 states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington—have said they would accept refugees, Grasswire reported.

Where State Governors Stand on Accepting Syrian Refugees

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