Gov. Fallin applauds Syrian legislation

Governor Mary Fallin

Governor Mary Fallin

Governor Mary Fallin Tuesday applauded U.S. House Republican leaders for committing to take swift action to draft legislation to halt President Barack Obama’s plan to accept thousands of refugees from Syria. House Speaker Paul Ryan said he wants a vote on the matter this week.

“There is a legitimate public safety concern and more oversight is needed of the refugee program,” said Fallin, who has demanded that the president suspend accepting Syrian refugees into the United States after last week’s terror attacks in Paris. “This is a federal program and states lack any authority to deny refugee resettlement in their jurisdictions.”

Fallin and dozens of other governors, Republicans and Democrats, today participated in a conference call with White House officials, expressing concern and questioning the confidence of the data used to screen the background of refugees from Syria. The president said just last week a day before the attacks by ISIS in Paris that the terrorist group had been “contained.” Governors also were concerned about being kept in the dark on how the relocation of Syrian refugees would work with local nongovernmental organizations and various agencies.

OK Gov. Mary Fallin with David Arnett, Tulsa Today

OK Gov. Mary Fallin with David Arnett, Tulsa Today

“We certainly want to be a humanitarian people and there are ways to do that, but our first and foremost job is the safety and security of our nation,” said Fallin.

The governor said the Obama administration should suspend accepting Syrian refugees until safeguards are in place to make sure the refugees are not terrorists intending to harm the American people. Getting accurate background information on people coming from that part of the world is quite limited.

FBI Director James Comey said last week there is a risk bringing anyone into this country, but especially from a conflict zone like Syria.

Syrian Islamists demonstrate

Syrian Islamists demonstrate

“The Obama administration needs to assure the public that the background checks they are doing are rigorous, and that American lives will not be endangered in the process,” said Fallin.

The governor said refugees from Syria should not be allowed into Oklahoma or any state until rigorous background checks are in place.

“The American people need to be assured that national security will not be compromised,” said Fallin. “We must maintain a strict verification process against possible terrorists.”

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt have also called on the Obama administration to halt receiving Syrian refugees until the federal government can assure the public their vetting process is effective.