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Amid resistance from over half of the nation’s governors, President Barack Obama on Wednesday pledged to provide refuge to at least 10,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria over the next year, he said in a tweet. But they must first pass the highest security checks.
He also said that welcoming the world’s refugees who seek asylum in America is not new, noting the nation has welcomed 3 million refugees since 1975.
The resistance stems from a revelation that at least one of the suspects alleged to be involved in the Paris terrorist attacks snuck into Europe among the recent wave of Syrian refugees. ISIS has claimed credit for the attacks. And House Republicans could vote on a measure as early as Thursday to halt the Obama administration’s plan to take in more Syrian refugees after the attacks.
Despite the concern, French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday vowed that 30,000 refugees will be welcomed over the next two years, while maintaining it is “our duty to protect our people.”
The pledges come as governors everywhere from Alabama and Georgia, to Texas and Arizona, to Michigan and Illinois, to Maine and New Hampshire announced that they oppose allowing Syrian refugees to enter their states, although the federal government has the final word, notes CNN.
“My heart says that we should let these people in simply because they are fighting ISIS and have been displaced by ISIS just like, you know, ISIS is our enemy also,” said Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, according to CNN. “My head says that I have to protect the people of the state of Alabama and keep them secure.”
Among the 31 governors, all but one are Republican. But Kiron Skinner, director of the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and surrogate to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012, tells NewsOne the issue is not a partisan one, but one of safety.
“Dozen of governors have said we cannot do this work in our states,” she said in a telephone interview, noting that even FBI director James B. Comey told Congress that the U.S. cannot thoroughly vet Syrians and other refugees to a level of satisfaction that will make Americans comfortable.
“It’s not a partisan issue,” she said. “Americans from all parts of the electorate are concerned about staying safe given that ISIS has now demonstrated that it has a global reach.”
Tom Jawetz, vice president of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute in Washington, D.C., tells NewsOne that America is poised to do both: help refugees and keep America safe. He also noted that the U.S. has a long history of welcoming refugees.
On Wednesday, the group released a column and infographic demonstrating how precautions are already in place to thwart terrorists from entering the United States through the refugee program. The infographic highlights a 21-step screening process refugees must pass to gain admittance into the U.S.
“No one should ignore the fact that there are security threats,” Jawetz told NewsOne. “The U.S. has been very cognizant of the issue and our track record proves that we are extremely good at it. The idea that we could close our doors to Iraqi and Syrian refugees, betray our values and not incite a reaction from the rest of the world is just naive.”
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SOURCE: CNN | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty| VIDEO CREDIT: Inform
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