Local Leaders Weigh in on Syrian Refugee Debate

Published: Nov. 16, 2015 at 5:07 PM EST
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More than a dozen states are not taking any chances, announcing on Monday that they will not be accepting Syrian refugees.

This happening after authorities announced that at least one of the Paris terrorists entered the country in the wave of Syrian refugees.

In September, President Obama announced that about 10,000 refugees from Syria would be allowed into the United States; however, some of our local representatives think that is a bad idea.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte expressed his sympathy for the events in Paris and also firmly addressed his stance against allowing Syrian refugees into the United States, while speaking in Shenandoah County.

He said that we never know when a terrorist attack will happen and that his district has been generous with accepting refugees from all over the globe.

Goodlatte said the focus should be on helping refugee camps in Lebanon and Turkey. Much of the concern is about checking the background of refugees, a process local resettlement leaders say is long, but also something Goodlatte and Syrian advocates disagree on.

"The FBI director testified just recently that they have no way of vetting the refugees that are applying to the United States. To know what their background is because of the devastation of Syria," explained Goodlatte.

"We shouldn't be afraid because of the process that people go through to become refugees. It takes years, a couple of years, after they're already refugees and in camps and registered where by they go through this process of being cleared by the U.S. government," said John Hulsey with Rocktown Rallies, a Refugee Aid Group.

The Church World Service resettlement office in Harrisonburg said that no Syrian refugees are currently on their way to Rockingham County or Harrisonburg, but Hulsey told WHSV last month that because of the long refugee process, we don't know what is going to happen.

Although Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has not issued any stance on whether to stop Syrian refugees from coming into the commonwealth, he said he's carefully monitoring the situation.

Governor Terry McAuliffe's statement:

"The Governor is following the tragic events in France and sends his deepest condolences to all people affected by those senseless acts of terrorism. Nothing is more important to the Governor and his team than keeping Virginians safe. He has asked Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran and his team to maintain close contact with federal and local authorities in order to ensure that we are taking every step we can to protect our communities.

With respect to refugees, the Governor and his public safety team are in constant communication with federal authorities about all refugee resettlements, including those involving refugees from Syria. Every refugee who is settled in the U.S. undergoes intensive security screening, and the Governor has asked Secretary Moran to ensure that every proper precaution is taken to keep Virginians safe."