COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Governor John Kasich said Monday that his office is looking at taking steps to stop the settling of Syrian refugees in Ohio in the wake of attacks on Paris that killed 129 people and left hundreds more injured.
Kasich’s office sent a statement Monday reading:
The governor doesn’t believe the U.S. should accept additional Syrian refugees because security and safety issues cannot be adequately addressed. The governor is writing to the President to ask him to stop, and to ask him to stop resettling them in Ohio. We are also looking at what additional steps Ohio can take to stop resettlement of these refugees.”
Kasich’s Communications Director Jim Lynch said that 48 Syrian refugees are currently living in Ohio, out of the 1,854 that have been admitted into the United States.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman also issued a statement on the situation, which read in part:
As a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, I have been raising my deep concerns about taking Syrian refugees because of our government’s inability to properly check their backgrounds to know who they are and why they are coming.”
Several other U.S. governors are threatening to halt efforts to allow Syrian refugees into their states in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris, though an immigration expert says they have no legal authority to do so.
The governors are responding to heightened concerns that terrorists might use the refugees as cover to sneak across borders. One of the attackers in Paris had a Syrian passport, and the Paris prosecutors’ office says fingerprints from the attacker match those of someone who passed through Greece in October.
Millions of Syrians have fled to neighboring Middle Eastern countries and Europe, and President Barack Obama’s administration has pledged to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next 12 months. The U.S. State Department said the refugees would be spread across the country. Republican presidential candidates have criticized the plan.
Donald Trump said the U.S. should increase surveillance of mosques, consider closing any tied to radicals and be prepared to suspend some civil liberties.
Ben Carson said, “Until we can sort out the bad guys, we must not be foolish,” and of Syrians already in the U.S., he added: “I would watch them very carefully.”
Calls by GOP rivals Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush to give preference to Christian refugees prompted a sharp rebuke from Obama.
In response to the calls from governors to prevent Syrian refugees from coming to their states, Lavinia Limon, president and CEO of the U.S Committee for Refugees and Immigration, said under the Refugee Act of 1980 governors cannot legally block refugees from settling in their communities.
As for Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf said his administration will keep working with the federal government to properly screen and resettle Syrian refugees in the state. The Democrat said Monday that the federal government thinks it can handle an additional 10,000 refugees that the White House said in September that it would accept from Syria.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.