Four GOP governors announce that they will refuse Syrian refugees for no good reason

Republican governors Robert Bentley (Alabama), Asa Hutchinson (Arkansas), Rick Snyder (Michigan) and Greg Abbott (Texas) have all announced today that their states will not accept refugees fleeing Syria, citing concerns that refugees could be linked to Islamic extremism. Senator and Louisiana gubernatorial candidate David Vitter also chimed in on Facebook, calling on President Obama to stop accepting refugees altogether.

That’s right. The same people who insist that they aren’t “Islamophobes” are literally afraid of letting Muslims fleeing violence into their states.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, via Wikimedia Commons

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, via Wikimedia Commons

As Governor Bentley noted, one of the eight attackers in Paris left behind a Syrian passport that was reportedly used to enter Europe from Turkey. However, as MicNews notes, it’s unclear as to whether that passport actually belonged to an attacker, or instead belonged to a victim. As ThinkProgress notes, it is likely that the attackers left this passport behind in order to spark this exact kind of anti-refugee hysteria, as the rest of the attackers were European nationals. In other words, restricting the flow of refugees wouldn’t have prevented the attack.

What’s more, trying to send a would-be terrorist to the United States via the refugee process makes even less sense than it would for Europe, as we have a far more rigorous screening process in place already. This means that if the Islamic State wanted to get someone into the United States, they’d almost certainly do so via alternative means. As Foundation for Defense of Democracies senior fellow Daveed Garnstein-Ross told Politifact:

Instead of sitting around hoping you win the refugee lottery and then wait years, then pass the screening to get to America, it would be much easier for a terrorist group to send a person through Europe or put them onto an airplane to the United States…If they could otherwise pass the refugee screening process, they could certainly get on an airplane.

This being the case, all Republican governors are doing by closing their states off from refugees is proving the Islamic State’s point to the rest of the Muslim world: that the West fears them, and does not consider them a welcome part of their self-described “multicultural” society. As far as actually keeping their citizens safe from the actual violent extremists who actually want to do Americans harm, turning away refugees is the opposite of helpful. It doesn’t solve the problem, and it exacerbates the cause.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, for his part, has announced that his state will continue to work with the federal government and receive refugees:

UPDATE: That didn’t take long. Louisiana Governor and soon-to-be-former presidential candidate Bobby Jindal makes it five states who will turn away refugees.

UPDATE UPDATE: Six! That’s two in two minutes since I hit “publish”:


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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