As some governors around the nation try to block Syrian refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks, Gov. Jay Inslee says they should be welcomed.
OLYMPIA — While numerous governors around the country say they oppose hosting Syrian refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks, Gov. Jay Inslee said Washington state will do no such thing.
“Washington will continue to be a state that welcomes those seeking refuge from persecution, regardless of where they come from or the religion they practice,” Inslee said in a statement Monday.
At least one immigration expert has said that under the Refugee Act of 1980, governors don’t have the authority to block refugees, and Inslee’s statement echoed that.
President Obama’s administration has pledged to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States over the next year.
Since 2012, fewer than 2,000 of the 4 million refugees from Syria have settled in America, according to a report by The New York Times, including a handful in Seattle, Spokane and Richland. Other countries have accepted hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.
Between October 2014 and this September, 25 Syrian refugees settled in Washington, according to Sarah Peterson, refugee coordinator for the state’s Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance.
That number represents a fraction of the nearly 3,000 total refugees — most from Iraq, Myanmar, the Republic of Congo, Somalia and Ukraine — who arrived in the state during that time, Peterson wrote in an email.
Rep. Jay Rodne, R-Snoqualmie, in a Facebook post described Inslee’s stance as “utterly irresponsible.”
“Governor Inslee should be worrying about protecting the residents of Washington state rather than following lockstep Obama’s policy of allowing unvetted Syrian migrants in,” Rodney wrote.
The post was one of several Rodne has made or shared on Facebook recently regarding Islam and ISIS. In other messages and comments, he has referred to Muslims as “barbarians” and accused Obama of wanting “to import 1.5 million muslims into the U.S.”
Among other things, the refugee-resettlement process includes security checks by the U.S. Department of State and an in-person interview with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Inslee said the remarks by other governors — almost all Republicans — were “of little value except to divide people and foment intolerance.”
The governor also condemned the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, and described its attacks on Paris, Beirut and elsewhere as “evil.”
“ISIS is a terrorist organization, one that must be destroyed and erased from this planet,” Inslee said.