Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Political leaders continue to discuss the resettlement in the United States of refugees from the violence in Syria. The governors of many states have objected to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in their respective states. Senator Ted Cruz reportedly will propose a bill that would bar the admission of Syrian refugees. House Speaker Paul Ryan called for a "pause" in Syrian refugee resettlement efforts. Always one for a colorful phrase, Donald Trump called Syrian refugees a "Trojan horse." Attempting to calm concerns, Attorney General Loretta Lynch has assure the nation that all refugees from Syria are subject to "robust" security checks.
The growing consensus among informed observers is that the federal government has the exclusive power to admit and resettle refugees but that the states could make the resettlement efforts more difficult, politically and otherwise.
Yesterday, the White House hosted a call with a bipartisan group of 34 governors from across the country to provide information about existing refugee admissions policies and security screening measures. According to the White House report,
"White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough led the call and was joined by Alejandro Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; Simon Henshaw, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration; Mark Giuliano, Deputy Director of the FBI; and representatives from the National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The call lasted almost 90 minutes, including an extensive question and answer session among the governors and Administration officials. The officials briefed the governors on the rigorous screening and security vetting process that is required before a refugee is able to travel to the United States. Thirteen governors asked questions.
The Administration officials reiterated what the President has made abundantly clear: that his top priority is the safety of the American people. That’s why, even as the United States accepts more refugees—including Syrians—we do so only after they undergo the most rigorous screening and security vetting of any category of traveler to the United States.
Several Governors expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to better understand the process and have their issues addressed directly by representatives of the agencies responsible for the refugee and screening programs. Others encouraged further communication to ensure that governors are able to better respond to questions from the public about the refugee screening and resettlement process.
Denis McDonough also committed to working with the National Governors Association to improve information sharing and maintain an ongoing dialogue."