Some governors are telling the federal government they don’t want Syrian refugees brought to their state in the wake of the violence in France, but Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says it may not be that easy.
“Well, I don’t know that the states have the authority to decide whether or not we can take refugees, this is a federal program. I share the concern of other governors about the safety and well-being of our citizens,” Branstad says.
Branstad says the attacks in France and other activity by ISIS shows the concern about the refugees is real. “At least one of the terrorists that was involved in the terrible atrocities that occurred on Friday was somebody that came in I guess with the refugees from Syria,” Branstad says. “So, we need to be concerned about ISIS radicals being embedded with these refugees.” Branstad says not only has ISIS infiltrated the refugees, but he says they’ve also been able to radicalize citizens of other countries, and they have cells here in the U.S.
“It’s a very dangerous situation that exists today and I want to do all I can as governor of this state to protect the safety and well-being of Iowans. I don’t want people coming here without a very careful vetting to make sure that they could have been radicalized or been part of an ISIS operation.” The governor was asked if the state might set up its own vetting process if the federal government wants to send refugees here.
“Well first of all, the federal government has got to share with us the information. And they haven’t always been willing to do that. And so, we’re going to demand that the federal government be open and transparent about what people are being place,” according to Branstad.
Branstad says the state could have a plan in place for dealing with refugees sent here, but that might not be enough to stop someone who wants to come in.
“It’s also my understanding that even if they are place in another state, their movement is then free within this country,” Branstad says. “So, they might be placed in another state and move here. That’s another danger that we’re concerned about.”
He says he will continue pushing federal officials to supply information so the state can deal with any concerns. “It’s something we’ve got to take very seriously and I’m going to do all I can. I’m just asking the federal government to coordinate and work with us and share with us the information,” Branstad says.
The governor made his comments at his weekly meeting with reporters.
Audio: Branstad on Syrian refugees 4:38.