Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has released an official statement, saying that the state will refuse Syrian refugees in light of the recent attacks in Paris.
Robert appeared late Sunday evening to assure citizens that the state was working closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security to prevent any terrorist attacks on Alabama soil. Although Gov. Bentley said that there was no indication that any such attack was going to take place, he revealed that one such preventative measure would be the barring of Syrian refugees.
“After full consideration of this weekend’s attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. As your Governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way.”
Robert’s policy likely stems from the fact that at least three of the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks had spent time in Syria before entering the country. At least one entered the country as a refugee through the island of Lesbos, officials connected with the case told CNN. A Syrian passport was also found near the corpse of a suicide bomber.
“The acts of terror committed over the weekend are a tragic reminder to the world that evil exists and takes the form of terrorists who seek to destroy the basic freedoms we will always fight to preserve. 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.”
The Alabama governor’s position will directly affect Syrians in a group of 100 Middle Eastern refugees who are set to be placed in Mobile with Catholic Social Services (CSS). The organization is completely taxpayer funded, according to local paper Yellowhammer News. Eric Dunn, the outreach coordinator for CSS, spoke with the news site earlier this year and explained the services they are able to offer to about 130 emigrants refuge annually.
“We work with them for about 6 months to help them become self-sufficient. We have various programs that our case managers walk them through, and we have a job developer that helps them find jobs, and case managers work on connecting them to local resources… As volunteer outreach coordinator, I work with volunteers who are willing to help teach them English, or take them to the grocery store, or teach them how to ride the bus. It’s pretty much everything you can think of to help orient them to the city so after six months they’re able to be self-sufficient.”
On a national level, the Alabama Gov. policy toward Syrian refugees is likely to be controversial to the current administration; but perhaps popular among several of the Republican presidential candidates who have made similar suggestions in the wake of the Paris shootings. Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been sympathetic toward accepting Syrian refugees in the past, publicly rejected the notion in a Sunday interview with ABC News.
“It’s not that we don’t want to. It’s that we can’t. Because there’s no way to background check someone that’s coming from Syria. Who do you call and do a background check on them?”
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s refusal of Syrian refugees contrasts sharply with that of the Obama administration, according to Washington Times. The White House has already reinforced its intention make good on promises to take in 10,000 Middle Eastern refugees this year, with a “robust vetting procedures” that “involves our intelligence community, our national counterterrorism center, [and] extensive interviews,” said National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.
[Image via Jessica McGowan and Carl Court/Getty Images]