White House to call governors to discuss Syrian refugees


Syrian families fleeing violence gather at the border with Turkey on Thursday, August 9, 2012. They are among the scores of refugees flying fighting between regime and rebel forces. In the 17 months since the fighting started, an estimated 150,000 refugees have fled into neighboring nations, including Turkey, which is hosting 50,000 people.

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WASHINGTON – The White House will hold a call with governors Tuesday evening about Syrian refugees as a growing number of state executives are saying they will not welcome resettling them in their states over terror concerns.

The call with administration officials is part of “ongoing outreach and communications” with state and local officials, a White House official said. The White House “will share existing information about Syrian refugee admissions policies and security screening measures.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, 28 governors, mostly Republicans, have said they will not allow Syrian refugees in their states after Alabama and Michigan’s leaders became the first to do so Sunday. Seven governors have committed to welcoming resettlement.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is one of the governors who has said he does not want refugees from the civil war-torn country in his state, but he told CNN he was “pleased” to get the note from the White House there would be a call.

“We got a message from the White House for a conference call later on this evening with governors to finally communicate with us and respect our concerns and respect the people of the United States’ concerns,” McCrory told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on Tuesday. “That’s good news as opposed to being lectured to yesterday by the President. So we’re all on the same team here.”

Earlier, in a conference call with reporters, senior administration officials who are leaders of the nation’s refugee program explained the process and extra vetting that Syrian refugees undergo, defending the program as one of America’s great traditions.

In that call, one of the officials said they regularly interact with lawmakers and state and local leaders to answer questions and clear up misconceptions about the program.

By Tal Kopan and Jim Acosta, CNN


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