Gov. Beshear won't refuse Syrian refugees in Kentucky; Gov.-elect Bevin would

Gov. Steve Beshear and Gov.-elect Matt Bevin
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT/AP) - In the aftermath of Friday's attacks in Paris, several U.S. governors are threatening to block efforts to allow Syrian refugees into their states.

At least 14 state leaders have said they'll review their current policies, some of those 14 are already putting a halt on accepting new Syrian refugees. But Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says the Commonwealth does not need to review any policies, and said the state will continue to welcome all refugees that service organizations have screened and vetted. So far this year, service organizations have placed three Syrian refugee families in Central Kentucky.

"As long as I'm governor, we're going to be looking at the Syrian refugee problem on a case-by-case basis," Beshear said. "There are thousands of these families that are victims of terrorism and are fleeing terrorism and are just looking for a safe haven. And obviously the United States is gonna be a part of that effort."

However, that could change in the weeks to come.

Governor-elect Matt Bevin released a statement Monday afternoon saying the recent terrorist attacks in Paris "serve as a warning to the entire civilized world that we must remain vigilant."

"It is imperative that we do everything in our power to prevent any similar attack by evildoers from taking place here in America," Bevin said. "My primary responsibility as Governor of Kentucky will be to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth. This is why I am joining with other governors across the country in opposing the resettlement of Syrian nationals until we can better determine the full extent of any risks to our citizens."

The governors are responding to heightened concerns that terrorists might use the refugees as cover to sneak across borders.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott today ordered his state's refugee resettlement program not to accept any more Syrians. And he's urging the White House to scrap federal plans to accept more Syrian refugees into the country.

Fellow Republican Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama said yesterday he would refuse Syrian refugees relocating to the state, since it would put citizens "in harm's way."

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal - a GOP presidential contender - said he wants more information from the White House "in hopes that the night of horror in Paris is not duplicated here." He's demanding to know how many Syrian refugees have been resettled in his state.

In Arkansas, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson tweeted a statement today, saying he opposes Syrian refugees being relocated to his state.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder had been welcoming refugees to Michigan, which has a large Arab-American population. But he said yesterday that the state is postponing efforts to accept refugees until federal officials fully review security procedures and clearances.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, announced legislation that would suspend visa issuance for countries with a high risk of terrorism and impose a waiting period for background checks on visa issuance from other countries until the American people can be assured terrorists cannot enter the country through our immigration and visa system. This legislation is based off language first proposed by Sen. Paul in 2013, he said.

“The time has come to stop terrorists from walking in our front door," Paul said in a statement. "The Boston Marathon bombers were refugees, and numerous refugees from Iraq, including some living in my hometown, have attempted to commit terrorist attacks. The terrorist attacks in Paris underscore this concern that I have been working to address for the past several years. My bill will press pause on new refugee entrants from high-risk countries until stringent new screening procedures are in place.”


What Sen. Rand Paul's legislation would do

Sen. Paul’s legislation would suspend issuance of visas to nationals of countries with a high risk of terrorism until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) certifies and Congress votes to approve that:
1) Aliens already admitted from high-risk countries have been fingerprinted and screened, pose no terrorist risk, and are being monitored for terrorist activity
2) Enhanced security measures are in place to screen future applicants and prevent terrorists from entering the country
3) DHS' visa entry-exit system is 100 percent complete and a tracking system is in place to catch attempted overstays

Additionally, the legislation would impose a 30-day waiting period for all entries to the U.S. in order for background checks to be completed, unless the traveler has been approved through the Global Entry program. This requirement will be lifted after DHS certifies and Congress approves that:
1) Screening of entrants is sufficient to prevent terrorists from entering the country
2) DHS' visa entry-exit system is 100 percent complete and a tracking system is in place to catch attempted overstays



 
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