LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Governors across the U.S. have threatened to stop accepting Syrian refugees following last week’s attacks in Paris, even as experts counter they lack legal authority to block the relocations.
California Gov. Jerry Brown says he’ll work closely with President Barack Obama to ensure any Syrian refugees coming to California are “fully vetted in a sophisticated and utterly reliable way.”
In an emailed statement to The Associated Press, the Democratic governor says the state can help uphold America’s traditional role as a place of asylum while also protecting Californians.
Several U.S. governors are threatening to halt efforts to allow Syrian refugees into their states in the aftermath of the coordinated attacks in Paris. An immigration expert says states have no legal authority to reject refugees.
The governors are responding to heightened concerns that terrorists might use the refugees as cover to sneak across borders.
The Refugee Processing Center says 218 Syrian refugees have arrived in California this year.
Experts say that number could jump after the U.S. has pledged to take in at least 10,000 refugees from the war-torn country over the next 12 months.
Some state leaders disagree with Obama’s assertion the country can simultaneously welcome refugees seeking safety and ensure citizens’ security. Several have called for a complete halt to resettlement, others for temporary delays and a few seek more information from federal officials on the vetting process.
Pasadena Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO these refugees are victims of terror themselves.
“Yes, be prudent, yes take every security precaution possible, but no, not turn our backs on those that are fleeing the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II,” said Schiff.
At least one refugee advocacy organization has warned the governors are setting themselves up for a discrimination lawsuit.
The Homeland Security Department says refugees face the highest level of security screening of anybody entering the U.S., but officials will work to allay states’ concerns.
Many GOP candidates, already skeptical if not hostile to welcoming refugees, came out even stronger. Donald Trump said the U.S. should increase surveillance of mosques, consider closing any tied to radicals and be prepared to suspend some civil liberties.
Ben Carson said, “Until we can sort out the bad guys, we must not be foolish,” and of Syrians already in the U.S., he added: “I would watch them very carefully.”
Calls by GOP rivals Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush to give preference to Christian refugees prompted a sharp rebuke from Obama.
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