A Muslim civil rights group that federal prosecutors have listed as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a case involving financing for the terrorist group Hamas is calling a handful of U.S. governors “un-American” for saying they oppose allowing Syrian refugees into their states.
“This un-American rejection of refugees, who will face significant security checks prior to entry, sends entirely the wrong message,” reads a statement from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “Governors who reject those fleeing war and persecution abandon our ideals and instead project our fears to the world.”
Most of the 14 governors who came out against the Obama administration’s plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. by Monday afternoon are Republicans. But one Democrat, New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan, said she wants to halt the initiative until intelligence and defense officials can provide more reassurances that the vetting process will screen out terrorists trying to sneak through the cracks.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced on Sunday that the state will halt its efforts to allow Syrian refugees until the Department of Homeland Security reviews its security procedures.
In a letter released on Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he “will not accept any refugees from Syria” and urged President Obama to do the same.
Though a majority of Americans already opposed the Obama administration’s resettlement plan, the governors and several Republican presidential candidates amped up their opposition due to ISIS’s recent attacks in Paris.
Approximately 130 were killed and more than 350 wounded in coordinated attacks across the French capital Friday night.
Adding to widespread concerns about the resettlement effort was the revelation on Sunday that one of the terrorists involved in the Paris attack was a Syrian refugee.
One of three men who blew themselves up at Paris’ Stade de France held an emergency passport bearing the false name Ahmad al Muhammad. He entered Greece on Oct. 3 before registering at a refugee camp in Croatia, CNN reported.
With its criticism of the public’s and the largely-Republican opposition to the Syrian resettlement, CAIR — which was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case in 2007 — echoed President Obama’s aggressive comments at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey on Monday.
“We do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism,” Obama said.
He also pointed to Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s suggestion that the U.S. should give priority to Syrian Christians seeking refugee status.
“That’s shameful,” Obama said, saving the bulk of his outrage for Republicans rather than ISIS. “That’s not American. It’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
The Obama administration has so far dismissed concerns that terrorists will slip through cracks and be allowed to settle in the U.S.
But some within the administration have acknowledged that the vetting process is not perfect.
“And so if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing show up because we have no record of them,” FBI director James Comey said during a House hearing last month. (RELATED: FBI Director Admits U.S. Can’t Vet All Syrian Refugees For Terror Ties)
It is unclear just how much say the governors will have over allowing refugees into their states. States are generally not involved in the refugee resettlement process.