Since the attacks in Paris on Friday, the governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Michigan, Indiana, and Massachusetts have all refused to accept Syrian refugees into their states, claiming that they pose a security threat and that the screening measures in place were not sufficient. “I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way,” Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement. All seven of the governors are Republicans.
While it’s possible that extremists could infiltrate groups of refugees, the reality is that the U.S. screening process for them is already far more stringent than in Europe. On average, it takes two years for Syrian refugees to be screened before they can enter the U.S. These refusals are especially absurd when you consider the fact that refugees would presumably be free to move between states after they were brought to the U.S.
Let’s not forget that the U.S. played a huge role in the events that led to the refugee crisis in the first place. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that provoking the West to turn against refugee is what ISIS exactly wants. As BuzzFeed’s Mike Giglio explains, fear-mongering about refugees could “exacerbate the chaos of the refugee crisis that ISIS seeks to exploit. Across Europe, the crisis has already become such a heated issue that it has caused political paralysis among EU leaders that prevents them from putting an effective policy in place.” We’ll see whether governors can even make this happen: States have very limited legal authority over immigration policy, which is largely the province of the federal government.