Governors of Tennessee and Georgia move to prevent Syrian refuge - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Governors of Tennessee and Georgia move to prevent Syrian refugees from resettling in their states

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Dozens of governors across the country are telling President Obama they will not allow Syrian refugees into their states following the terror attacks in Paris.

Governor Haslam announced he asked federal officials to stop any placements of Syrian refugees. The move by Haslam and other governors Monday opened the door for debate on the United States' future role in accepting displaced Syrians.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is on the same page. He is calling for a pause in resettling Syrian refugees in the United States. 

Ryan told reporters while America has always been welcoming to refugees we can not allow "terrorists to take advantage of our compassion." This comes four days after the attacks in Paris killed at least 129 people.

Ryan announced house republicans are forming a task force to look at how to vet the Syrian refugee program. He is pushing for a vote on refugee legislation this week.

It was only recently announced by the federal government, before the Paris attacks, the U.S. would start accepting more refugees from around the world. And that process was in the early stages.
Channel 3 interviewed the interim executive director for the only organization in our area that helps resettle refugees in the Tennessee Valley. As she explains, it is a very complex process that takes time.

In the wake of one of the Paris attackers being identified as a possible Syrian refugee, many are weighing in on whether or not the U.S. should accept Syrian refugees in the future. 

Senator Bob Corker said in part, "…there can be no shortcuts when it comes to guaranteeing the safety of the American people. Any proposed change in U.S. policy by this administration must involve a careful assessment of all the implications and ensure that there is no added security risk."

"I understand the concern. But I also have been part of the resettlement for so many years I know that this is the most scrutinized, from the clearance point of view, group of people, who will ever travel to the United States," says Marina Peshterianu.

Peshterianu oversees 'Bridge Refugee Services' based in Chattanooga and Knoxville.
"Chattanooga and Knoxville, so far, haven't received any Syrian refugees," she says.

Peshterianu says relocating to the U.S. is a tedious process that does not happen overnight.

"The security process takes more than 1000 days."

As it stands now, screening, acceptance and placement of any refugees in the U.S. is legally under the authority of the federal government. Many governors are proclaiming states should be more involved in that process.
"I think the U.S. government takes this very seriously," says Peshterianu.

Peshterianu says an immediate ban will only create more problems.
"This creates only more refugees. Terrorism is what pushes these people to run for safety."

She urges other Americans to withhold judgment.
"As a human being I don't like when people categorize or label a big group of people for the deeds of one individual," says Peshterianu.

The Tennessee ACLU is weighing in on the issue too, saying, "The attempt by Governor Haslam and other lawmakers to draw a link between such tragedies and the admission and resettlement of Syrian refugees in Tennessee is a reflexive overreaction."

Since January 1 the state of Tennessee has accepted 30 Syrian refugees.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam released a statement Monday afternoon regarding the terrorist attacks in Paris and the placement of Syrian refugees in Tennessee: 

“As we mourn the loss of innocent life from Friday’s horrific and cowardly attacks in Paris, these terrible events have once again shown us that the threat of Islamic terrorism knows no boundaries and recognizes no borders. We as a state must do everything we can to provide Tennesseans the safe environment to live, work and raise a family that so many across the world seek.

“Since Friday the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security has been in contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and this administration has actively shared information with our local public safety partners across Tennessee. 

“We are currently working to get specifics from the U.S. Department of State on the status of any Syrian refugees currently slated to come to Tennessee. While screening, acceptance and placement is legally under the authority of the federal government, they have said in the past they would be open to cooperating with receiving states. Today I’m asking the federal government to suspend placements in Tennessee until states can become more of a partner in the vetting process.”

ATLANTA --- Gov. Nathan Deal announced Monday afternoon that Georgia would join a growing list of states that are not accepting Syrian refugees on the heels of last Friday's attack of Paris by Islamic State terrorists.

"In light of the terror attacks in Paris, I've issued an executive order directing state agency heads to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Georgia," Deal said. Further, I call on the Obama Administration to work with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security to confirm the backgrounds of the 59 Syrian refugees recently resettled to ensure they do not pose a security threat to our citizens.Until the federal government and Congress conduct a thorough review of current screening procedures and background checks, we will take every measure available to us at the state level to safeguard the safety of Georgians."

More than a dozen other states announced that they also would refuse resettlement of Syrian refugees, while only Pennsylvania had come out in support of the resettlement efforts by late Monday afternoon, encouraging their resettlement in that state.

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