Arizona Governor Doug Ducey: Halt All Refugee Placements in Arizona After Paris Attacks
An estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war.
**This article has been updated to reflect the latest information.
As new information surfaces about the six coordinated terrorist attacks that killed at least 129 people in Paris on Friday, Governor Doug Ducey today joined a growing group of state leaders in calling for a temporary stop to all refugee placements in Arizona.
In a statement, he said the Paris attacks "serve as a reminder that the world remains at war with radical Islamic terrorists" and that "our national leaders must react with the urgency and leadership that every American expects to protect our citizens.”
For weeks, many have worried that terrorists will infiltrate western Europe and the United States with a huge tide of Syrian refugees, and Friday's attacks in Paris seem to have strengthened that fear.
It's been widely reported that at least one of the suspected terrorists had a Syrian passport with him, though authorities are not certain it belonged to him.
Ducey's announcement came shortly after President Obama cautioned the nation against "slamming the door" on refugees: “Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values. Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both."
Obama also sought to remind people that many of the most desperate refugees, particularly those escaping Syria, "are the victims of terrorism themselves," and in a comment that was likely directed at the many GOP leaders who have advocated barring any Muslims from entering the country, said it was un-American and "shameful" to dismiss anyone based on religion or ethnicity.
Arizona has one of the highest rates of refugee resettlement in the country and was expected to take in a few hundred Syrians beginning early next year. It's unclear how long Ducey is planning to have this emergency measure last — or if he'll even be able to do it — but in his statement, he also called "on Congress and the president to immediately amend federal law to provide states greater oversight and authority in the administration of the placement of refugees."
Puente Human Rights, a migrant justice organization based in Phoenix, immediately denounced Ducey's move:
“Governor Ducey’s fear-mongering will only serve to generate hysteria and enables an environment where racist acts of violence and hate are accepted. Scapegoating and xenophobia don’t make us safer. Refugees flee violence and poverty because they have no other choice. Banning them from our state doesn’t benefit anyone and only serves to further victimize those who are fleeing for their lives.”
The Council on American and Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights group in the country, also condemned the move: “Defeating ISIS involves projecting American ideals to the world. This un-American rejection of refugees, who will face significant security checks prior to entry, sends entirely the wrong message. Governors who reject those fleeing war and persecution abandon our ideals and instead project our fears to the world.”
Read Ducey's full statement:
“Given the horrifying events in Paris last week, I am calling for an immediate halt in the placement of any new refugees in Arizona. As governor, I am invoking our state’s right under 8 USC, Section 1522 (a), to receive immediate consultation by federal authorities per the United States Refugee Act, and that the federal government take into account the concerns and recommendations of the state of Arizona as they are required to under federal law, in our efforts to keep our homeland safe. I also call on Congress and the President to immediately amend federal law to provide states greater oversight and authority in the administration of the placement of refugees. These acts serve as a reminder that the world remains at war with radical Islamic terrorists. Our national leaders must react with the urgency and leadership that every American expects to protect our citizens.”
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.