Amid Terror Fears, California Is Welcoming Middle Eastern Refugees

Amid Terror Fears, California Is Welcoming Middle Eastern Refugees
Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti

Obama administration acceptance of at least 10,000 refugees from war-torn Syria has become a hot topic after at least eight terrorists attacked innocents at three different locations in Paris on Friday, killing 129. Most of the casualties were at Le Bataclan, a concert venue where Southern California's Eagles of Death Metal was playing. 

Cal State Long Beach student Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, who was studying design in Paris during a semester-abroad program, was among innocents killed at a restaurant attacked by gunmen. Some of the attackers indicated their cause was French bombing against Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Syria.

ISIS took credit for the Paris attacks, and reports indicated the terror group has vowed to target Washington, D.C., next.

Thirty-one governors, all but one Republican, have declared their states would not accept the Syrians out of concern about the possibility terrorists could be among them. So far, all the Paris attackers have turned out to be European nationals; some appear to also have Middle Eastern heritage.

While it seems that governors wouldn't have the authority to deny the refugees, even California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, said he would work to "ensure that anyone seeking refuge in America is fully vetted in a sophisticated and utterly reliable way."

Ben Carson, a GOP presidential candidate who made a campaign stop in Costa Mesa yesterday, said in a statement, "I am standing with the 31 governors who are fighting to keep our nation safe."

"We do not currently have the means to adequately vet the thousands of refugees that the Obama administration wants to bring into the United States," Carson said.

President Obama said the Republicans' response to the refugee program, already under way, is "offensive, and contrary to American values." He also accused GOP politicians of providing ample material for ISIS' anti-American propaganda.

A senior State Department official said this week that "all refugees of all nationalities considered for admission to the United States undergo intensive security screening, and this involves multiple federal intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies."

Syrian refugees fleeing bombing and civil war have been flooding into Europe.

Earlier this fall Mayor Eric Garcetti joined 17 other big-city mayors, including fellow Democrats in New York and Chicago, to welcome the Syrians. 

California is already the state with the most refugees under the program, which started Oct. 1. The Golden State has so far reportedly accepted 218 of them. It's not clear how many might be in Los Angeles.

The 18 mayors sent a letter to the president pledging support for the Obama initiative.

"We commend your decision to open America’s doors to at least 10,000 Syrian refugees displaced by civil war, and applaud your commitment to increase the overall number of refugees the U.S. will resettle over the course of the next two years," the leaders wrote. "This announcement is a vital initial step to honoring America’s commitment to support those fleeing oppression."


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