Governor Bentley defends decision to oppose Syrian refugee relocation efforts in Alabama

(WIAT) — Governor Robert Bentley is in the national spotlight for his announcement to oppose the relocation of Syrian refugees to Alabama.

A growing number of Republican governors are now reportedly opposing plans to relocate Syrian refugees to their states following Paris attacks.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley announced on Sunday that he would resist any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

In a release on Sunday, Bentley said he made the decision in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

“As your governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way,” said Bentley.

More than a dozen governors have reportedly taken a similar stand since Bentley announced his opposition.

Former National Security Adviser to President George W. Bush, and former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, addressed the recent attacks during a speech at the Alabama Theater in Birmingham Monday morning. Rice was in town for a meeting of Japanese delegates and Southeastern US business leaders.

“The French are very good at counter terrorist operations. And that they could be surprised in that way, by coordinated attacks suggests a level of danger that even I think even I had not really understood,” said Rice.

Rice said the U.S. military must step up operations to defeat ISIS in the Middle East.

“I often say ISIS marches in columns. They don’t hide in caves like Al Qaeda. They march openly. If CBS News can find them, the American military can find them,” said Rice.

Former Secretary Rice also said surveillance efforts were a critical component of preventing terrorist attacks.

“Third, I hope that we will do something about creating a safe haven for innocent Syrians in and around Turkey and Jordan,” said Rice. “We cannot sustain the numbers of migrants that are flowing into Europe. It isn’t possible.”

“We’ve got to stop the flow of refugees by making them safe in their own homeland,” added Rice.

Rice said that during her tenure as Secretary of State the highest number of refugees entering the system in a single year was 67,000.

“We’re now faced with hundreds of thousands. And I think we’re going to have to give the system that we’ve created time to work,” said Rice.

“I do hope that we can remain open and welcoming, but I fundamentally understand if you’re in a position of authority like you are or the governor or others, you have to as a part of your compassion also be safety conscious for your people,” she continued.

Governor Bentley explained his opposition to relocating Syrian refugees in Alabama following a luncheon involving SEUS Japan members.

“In my heart I feel for them, but in my head I realize that I have to try as governor to keep the people of Alabama safe and make them secure. And there are a lot of questions right now about whether or not these people that are coming into America, whether or not they’ve been vetted,” said Bentley.

Bentley said the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has assured him that they are beefing up security at “soft targets” around the state.

Bentley said there is one U.S. State Department approved refugee processing center in Mobile.

Bentley signed an Executive Order Monday directing all executive agencies to use all lawful means necessary to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Alabama.

According to the Associated Press, the head of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigration says governors do not have the legal authority to block refugees from settling in their communities because of the Refugee Act of 1980.

 

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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