Missouri lawmakers hold hearing to discuss Syrian refugees

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KTVI) - A worldwide debate is under consideration in Jefferson City. Lawmakers are discussing whether it is safe to allow Syrian refugees to settle in the Show Me State. Senators and representatives held a joint hearing at the capitol Tuesday. One side said it’s all about security, the other said refugees are sufficiently checked before coming to the U.S. Senator Jamilah Nasheed, a democrat, said, “We have a very rigorous and vetting process.”

Republicans like Marsha Haefner aren’t so sure, “We can’t vet a lot of these refugees especially from Syria and Iraq coming into our country and there is concern about security.”

Syrians now make up the largest refugee population in the world. It’s estimated half of the 22 million citizens have fled their homes. The president has said he wants to welcome 10 thousand more Syrians to the U.S. but several states have said no in light of the terrorists’ attacks in Paris.

Representative Haefner said, “Today it would make me feel better if we could just ask for a pause and really look at how were vetting people from that region and if it’s the best interest of Missouri to have them come into our state.”

The head of the International Institute in St. Louis talked to senators and representatives and believes immigrants make the economy stronger in a state and city that is losing population. Anna Crosslin said, “The immigrants are sixty percent more likely to start businesses than native grown Americans so they’re part of the backbone of the economy that helps us generate jobs at this point.”

But republicans said there’s a flip side to the economic coin: can Missouri afford more people that may need state aid? Haefner said, “With limited resources for social services in our state adding to the burden.”

Some said Missouri law cannot trump federal law. Others complained this whole issue is political. Nasheed added, “What you’re seeing happened today is candidates running for 2016 running on the backs of immigrants.”

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