As Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday reiterated that Washington state should welcome Syrian refugees, a group applied for a permit to rally at the Capitol to oppose accepting them.
OLYMPIA — As Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday reiterated that Washington state would welcome Syrian refugees, a group applied for a permit to rally at the Capitol to oppose accepting them.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Chris Vance, her GOP challenger in 2016, weighed in on the issue, which flared up after last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris linked to the Islamic State group.
On Monday Inslee declared that the state would continue to welcome persecuted refugees “regardless of where they come from or the religion they practice.”
Now, the Olympia chapter of the organization ACT for America is seeking a permit to rally at noon on Friday against Syrian refugees coming to the state, said Jim Erskine, spokesman for the state Department of Enterprise Services.
ACT for America — which describes itself on its website as a grass-roots group “dedicated to national security and defeating terrorism” — didn’t respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The Obama administration has pledged to allow 10,000 Syrians to resettle in the U.S. over the next year. Between October 2014 and this September, only 25 refugees from Syria — which has been mired in a brutal civil war — have resettled in the state.
While governors don’t appear to have any legal authority to block them, about half of the nation’s governors have called for a halt to accepting Syrian refugees. Authorities say at least one of the attackers in Paris may have crossed into Europe with refugees from Syria.
Murray, a Democrat running for her fifth term in 2016, believes there must be an emphasis on making sure refugees are effectively screened, her spokesman Eli Zupnick said.
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“Senator Murray’s highest priority is keeping Washington state families safe, especially in the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris and across the world — and she thinks we can do that without slamming the door on women, children, and families fleeing from terrorism and horrific violence themselves,” Zupnick said in a statement.
He added: “And she absolutely opposes the kind of religious tests on refugees that some Republicans are pushing to implement.”
Vance called on Obama to temporarily stop the flow of refugees.
In a statement, Vance said that Syrians should not be allowed into the U.S. until Obama “can assure state officials and the American people that no terrorists will be able to use this humanitarian program to enter the United States.”
But Vance also added that “we should help those fleeing the terror of ISIS.”
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Inslee reiterated his support for welcoming refugees. He also participated in a White House conference call regarding security protocols for resettling refugees.
Officials “made it clear that there is a lot of misinformation about the type of people who are fleeing from persecution,” Inslee said Tuesday. “The U.S. State Department prioritizes the highest-risk and most-vulnerable groups of people — children, the elderly, and victims of torture or abuse. About half of all Syrian refugees are children.”