Snyder asks for administration to meet with governors about Syrian refugees

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 - 9:40pm

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson released Tuesday, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) called on the Obama administration to facilitate conversations about Syrian refugee resettlement policy with state governors.

Following terrorist attacks in Paris last month that left 130 dead, Snyder was one of the first of 31 U.S. governors to ask for a halt in the immigration of Syrian refugees into his state. Initial reports on the attacks suggested that one of the attackers may have been a refugee from Syria, though later reports confirmed those reports were not true.

He later clarified his stance to state that refugees already in the process of coming to Michigan wouldn’t be included in the pause, and would be allowed entry. Many legal scholars have suggested that governors don’t have the authority to turn away refugees.

“While I appreciate your clarification of the security vetting process and understand that it is both extensive and rigorous, I believe the best path forward is a bipartisan coalition of state and federal authorities working together to assure the concerns of many Americans are addressed,” he wrote.

In particular, he asked the administration to allow the Council of Governors, an advisory committee Snyder to which Snyder belongs, to discuss the refugee resettlement program at an upcoming meeting.

The Council of Governors, whose members are appointed by the White House, is composed of state and federal officials and aims to advise the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of Defense and the White House Homeland Security Council.

Snyder wrote that he envisions the meeting as an opportunity for governors to bring police and homeland security experts from their respective states to share their expertise on the subject.

“With these experts in the room, I am confident that we can engage in a deep dialogue on the effectiveness of the vetting process,” Snyder wrote. “Further, I would like to expand the discussion to include enhanced communication between federal, state and local government officials to ensure the public is well informed about the fidelity of the screening process for all individuals who wish to come to America.”

The refugee crisis has generated a significant amount of attention on campus — namely, a student petition drive condemning Snyder’s statements about refugees.