Gov. Dannel P. Malloy defended his position Tuesday to resettle Syrian refugees in Connecticut in a cable television interview after a White House call with a bipartisan group of 34 governors.
Tuesday’s White House call lasted almost 90 minutes and included an extensive question and answer session, according to a White House briefing. The call comes after more than a dozen Republican governors said they didn’t want Syrian refugees to resettle in their states following last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris.
Even as the United States accepts more refugees — including Syrians — White House officials said they will do so only after they undergo the most rigorous screening and security vetting of any category of traveler to the United States.
President Barack Obama has said he would accept 10,000 Syrian refugees and the State Department announced that the overall number of refugees the U.S. will accept in 2016 will rise to 85,000 followed by an increase to 100,000 in 2017, compared with 70,000 in 2015.
In an MSNBC interview with Chris Hayes, Malloy said the United Nations has recommended 23,000 Syrians be considered for entry into the United States. That list was whittled down to 7,000 who were eligible for the next stage of review, and of that 7,000, just 2,000 have made it to the United States.
“We’re talking about a tiny fraction of people,” Malloy said.
The United States has the “toughest process in the world for letting refugees into our country,” Malloy said.
He said the terrorists want us to stop behaving like Americans and defending liberty and freedom.
What happened, according to Malloy, was “. . . a bunch of Republican governors got ahead of themselves and did not do their homework.”
Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, said he’s heard from his constituents who are very concerned about the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Connecticut.
Markley, citing comments made last month by FBI Director James Comey, said it doesn’t make sense to bring in a group of people “we can’t properly screen.”
Comey testified to Congress that the screening process has improved, but there’s no guarantee someone won’t slip through the cracks.
“I can’t sit here and offer anybody an absolute assurance that there’s no risk associated with this,” Comey told Congress last month.
Markley said that given the uncertainty in the world it really seems like the wrong time to move forward with something like this.
Markley sent a letter to Malloy to ask him to reconsider his position and encouraged his constituents through his video blog to call the governor’s office to express their concern.
Meanwhile, next Saturday, Nov. 28 both sides may be coming to the state Capitol.
A group supportive of bringing Syrian refugees to Connecticut has posted plans for a state Capitol rally on Facebook. Another Facebook listing for a group against bringing the Syrian refugees to Connecticut has disappeared.
James Keyser, one of the sponsors of the latter event said they “have been unable at this point to receive any communication from the Capitol authorities and at this juncture neither myself or the co-host wish to assume any responsibility for violence or problems due to a lack of security.”
More than 300 people in support of the Syrian refugees have accepted the invitation to the state Capitol event.
No permit for the event has been issued yet by state Capitol police.