Governor Kasich Seeks Halt to Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Ohio, Local Refugee Group Responds

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Gov. John Kasich is among the more than two dozen Republican governors who said this week, they want the U.S. to stop bringing in Syrian refugees in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris. Kasich told the National Press Club today that states don’t have the authority to block refugee resettlement in the US, but he wants the feds to halt it until a system of checking out their backgrounds is better established.

“I’ve done many, many things to make sure that people who find themselves in the shadows are taken care of. And I’ll continue to do it. But you also have to be in a position of where you’re not going to jeopardize other people. And that’s the problem here.”

The Republican-dominated Ohio House, meanwhile, is also urging the President to halt the settlement of Syrian refugees here citing safety concerns.  GOP leadership brought up a resolution for a vote today, the same day it was introduced.  It passed 63-24.  It was a largely a symbolic measure.

One local resettlement organization points out that the process already involves careful vetting.  Danielle Drake with Us Together says refugees trying to resettle in the US must pass a 13-step process including a State Department background check and an in-person interview with the Department of Homeland Security.  She says Kasich’s letter to President Obama yesterday, urging a halt to Syrian refugees allowed into the US, won’t stop her organization’s work.

"We're fully aware that governors cannot technically bar or preclude certain groups of refugees but it certainly doesn’t make our lives any easier and it certainly doesn’t make the refugees coming here feel welcome if they know these statements are being made."

In Cuyahoga County, four agencies work together directly with the State Department to process up to 800 refugees a year. According to Us Together, so far one Syrian was placed in Columbus, 47 in Toledo, and a family of 5 was resettled by Catholic Charities in Cleveland.

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