Gov. Charlie Baker and 25 other U.S. governors say they’ll refuse to accept Syrian refugees — citing security concerns on the heels of horrific terror attacks in Paris, and setting their states on a collision course with the White House.
“I think any conversation that involves this has to start with whatever process the federal government is going to put in place,” Baker said yesterday at the State House. “I think at this point in time we would have to be very cautious about accepting folks without learning a lot more about what the federal government plans look like.”
Baker said earlier this year he was open to the idea of accepting Syrian refugees, but said yesterday he’ll say no to any federal request that Massachusetts take in any refugees from Syria “until I know a lot more than I know now.”
Baker joined the governors of 25 other states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin — in taking a stand against relocating Syrian refugees to their respective jurisdictions.
Yesterday’s rush of governors rejecting refugees came in response to President Obama’s insistence that he’ll take in displaced Syrians despite the terrorist attacks in Paris Friday that left 129 people dead and more than 300 injured.
One of the terrorists was reportedly found to be carrying a Syrian passport that was processed through a refugee camp in Greece.
The Obama administration announced in February the U.S. would accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year. Since the beginning of the year, 62 of them have settled in the Bay State, according to the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center.
Baker’s reluctance to accept refugees has already put him at odds with leading Democrats in Washington and Boston.
U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem), an Iraq war veteran, called Baker’s decision “un-American.”
“Slamming the door on our refugees is morally wrong, un-American and not going to defeat ISIS. It’s acting out of fear,” said Moulton, who has been critical of Obama’s weak strategy against the Islamic State. “One thing I have always been proud of is that we never let the enemy change our values here in America.”
Mayor Martin J. Walsh indicated he’s prepared to accept refugees.
“As a city and as a country it is not our custom to turn our backs on people who are in need and who are innocent,” Walsh said.
“We have yet to receive guidelines from the federal or state government on how they will move forward,” the mayor said. “However should we be told that Boston is accepting refugees, we will work with our partners at the federal, state and local levels to ensure the safety of Boston residents.”
Marie-Claire Ribeill, honorary consul of France to Raleigh, N.C., told Boston Herald Radio yesterday that “the refugees are not the problem.”
“I think, yes, there might be some people that slip in and profit from the generosity of a Western state. But we can’t bend to terror again,” she said. “We can’t be afraid of offering asylum to a lot of very innocent people just in case there might be a rotten apple in the net.”