Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan joined the chorus of governors asking President Obama to stop sending Syrian refugees to his state, saying Tuesday that the security situation is too tenuous.
More than half of the country’s governors have now expressed concern or opposition to Mr. Obama’s pledge to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees this year, with the worries coming chiefly from Republicans such as Mr. Hogan.
“I am now requesting that federal authorities cease any additional settlements of refugees from Syria in Maryland until the U.S. government can provide appropriate assurances that refugees from Syria pose no threat to public safety,” Mr. Hogan said.
Also Tuesday New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of those seeking Republicans’ presidential nomination in 2016, sent a letter to Mr. Obama saying his state will refuse to accept refugees.
Governors do not have veto power over refugees, but their cooperation is helpful when federal officials and non-profits are trying to identify target locations for resettlement, administration officials said.
Trying to calm the furor, administration officials were planning a phone call with governors later Tuesday to try to keep their support.
Democrats and liberal pressure groups chastised governors who rejected refugees, saying it was shortsighted.
“I could not disagree more with Governor Hogan’s request to cease the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Maryland,” said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat. “Turning our backs on refugees fleeing the same senseless violence we witnessed in Paris is not just heartless, it is a betrayal of America’s values.”
But bipartisan concern over the refugees is growing. NPR reported that Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said the administration might need to pause its refugee plans.
Republicans on Capitol Hill are pushing ahead with plans to rein in Mr. Obama, including potentially giving governors more power to refuse refugees.
In the meantime, Mr. Christie said he was ordering his state agencies to stop assisting in relocation, and was asking nongovernmental organizations to respect his wishes.
Mr. Christie said the Obama administration fails to notify state law enforcement when it is placing refugees, which the governor said violates federal law and leaves police scrambling to try to catch up with potential bad actors who have been added to their communities.
“I cannot allow New Jersey to participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees — any one of whom could be connected to terrorism — being placed in our state,” the former federal prosecutor said in his letter.