The number of Republican governors who say they are going to stop accepting Syrian refugees rose to at least 10 on Monday, USA Today reported.
The governors of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Massachusetts, and Texas are acting in response to Friday’s terror attacks in Paris.
“No, I’m not interested in accepting refugees from Syria,'' Massachusetts governor Chris Baker told The Boston Globe. “My view on this is the safety and security of the people of the Commonwealth of Mass. is my highest priority. So I would set the bar very high on this.”
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal echoed his sentiments on Twitter.
Washington governor Jay Inslee took a different stance in a statement released Monday.
“Sadly, in the wake of these attacks, many people channel their fear and anger against ISIS into fear and anger against Muslims," the statment read. "At a time when millions of Syrian families are attempting to flee ISIS and seek refuge in safer parts of the world, including the United States, there are some who say it’s time to close our doors to people whose lives are in peril.
“Washington will continue to be a state that welcomes those seeking refuge from persecution, regardless of where they come from or the religion they practice. We have been and will continue to be a state that embraces compassion and eschews fear mongering, as evidenced so well by Republican Gov. Dan Evans’ welcoming of Vietnamese refugees here in the 1970s."
Experts have countered that the governors lack legal authority to block newcomers.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama, whose administration has pledged to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next 12 months, argued Monday the nation needs to allow them because many are fleeing terrorism.
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.
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.