Michigan, Alabama, Texas refuse to accept Syrian refugees in wak - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Michigan, Alabama, Texas refuse to accept Syrian refugees in wake of Paris attacks

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(ABC) -- Michigan, Alabama and Texas have become the first states in the country to refuse to take in Syrian refugees amid heightened security concerns following Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris.

Govs. Rick Snyder of Michigan, Robert Bentley of Alabama, and Greg Abbott of Texas said in separate statements Sunday and today that their states would not be relocating refugees from the war-torn country until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security fully reviewed its screening procedures.

"Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration," Snyder said. "But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents."

 More than 120 people died in the coordinated attacks in Paris, and at least one of the attackers was carrying a Syrian passport, which has led authorities to consider he could have entered Europe as a refugee. The alleged mastermind of the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, is believed to have slipped into Syria this year.

The United States in September pledged to take 15,000 refugees fleeing war-torn Syria for the fiscal year that began in October; an estimated 85,000 total refugees are expected to be resettled in the U.S. in 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sept. 20.

Just this year, about 200 Syrian refugees have been relocated to Michigan by one agency alone, and the state has one of the biggest Middle Eastern populations in the country. No refugees have been resettled in Alabama, and in his statement Sunday, Gov. Bentley said things would continue that way.

“I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way,” Bentley said. "I will not place Alabamians at even the slightest, possible risk of an attack on our people. Please continue to join me in praying for those who have suffered loss and for those who will never allow freedom to fade at the hands of terrorists."

In a letter to President Obama today, Abbott said: "Given the tragic attacks in Paris and the threats we have already seen, Texas cannot participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees -- any one of whom could be connected to terrorism -- being resettled in Texas."

"Effective today, I am directing the Texas Health & Human Services Commission's Refugee Resettlement Program to not participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the State of Texas. And I urge you, as President, to halt your plans to allow Syrians to be resettled anywhere in the United States," Abbott wrote in the letter.

Several presidential candidates, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, have come out against taking in more refugees.

"It’s not that we don’t want to,” Rubio told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. "It’s that we can’t."

More than 7 million Syrians have been displaced by war, and by the end of September the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had referred 18,000 cases to the United States for resettlement. 

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