Missouri Politicians Talk About Syrian Refugees

Nov 17, 2015

President Obama announced a plan to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees into the US over the next year. However, after the terror attacks in France, many states are speaking out in opposition to the president’s plan. According to CNN, over half of the nation’s governors are refusing to welcome refugees into their states. Missouri, however, is not one of them.

Credit File Photo / KBIA

Governor Jay Nixon released a statement on Monday saying Missouri will allow refugees into the state, stating it is up to the federal government to screen refugees. In the midst of the terrorist attacks in France and the threats of ISIS members in the US, Nixon’s decision was not popular among 18 Republican Senators who urged Nixon not to accept the refugees. Among those 18 senators was Kurt Schaefer from Columbia, who said opposed Nixon’s decision for various reasons.

“What public funds are being used? What public programs are being used to bring in refugees? And what vetting process is taking place to make sure that among those who are really seeking asylum, we are not also letting into the state of Missouri, and into our communities, those that wish to do harm to Missourians?” Schaefer said.

Schaefer said that he is most concerned with whether there is a screening process in place for Missouri. Schaefer said he is unaware of what the current process is, but believes the process should involve an in-depth look at the refugee’s background and an understanding of who these individuals are that are being allowed into the state of Missouri. 

Along with safety concerns, Schaefer said he was curious of the costs to Missouri taxpayers.

“I think it’s fair to know up front what is that cost so that we can build that into the budget, if necessary, or make some evaluation of what programs are being used,” Schaefer said. “And I think you can’t separate that from the fact that we now know that that process in France was used to bring terrorists into a community, and we simply need to make sure it doesn’t happen here.”

Senior Vice-President for Global Engagements Eskinder Negash said that there is a process in place for bringing in refugees and it is a very strenuous one. Refugees are not allowed to come to this country without being approved by the Department of Homeland Security and without a proper health screening.

“We have a very well organized, very well defined refugee resettlement program in this country. I think we have probably the best refugee resettlement model in terms of screening, in terms of providing services, in terms of vetting everyone who’s coming in, than any country that I know of,” Negash said.