LePage on Syrian refugees: "will take every lawful measure in my power to prevent it"

Refugee debate in Maine.

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- At least nine governors say they will not accept Syrian refugees in their states in response to Friday's attacks in Paris.

Maine Governor Paul LePage joined the governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan and Texas in saying that their top concern must be the safety of state residents.

SEE USA TODAY LIST OF REFUGEES BY STATE AT END OF STORY

"I just signed an Executive Order instructing state agencies to take all available steps to stop the relocation of Syrian refugees to LA.," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal tweeted on Monday.

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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a statement saying the plan to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States is "is not the right strategy."

And Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker told reporters at a State House event Monday, "No, I'm not interested in accepting refugees from Syria," according to the Boston Globe.

"My view on this is the safety and security of the people of the Commonwealth of Mass. is my highest priority," he added. "So I would set the bar very high on this."

Governor LePage released a statement saying the following: ""The thoughts and prayers of the First Lady and I are with the People of France as they mourn those killed in Friday's despicable terrorist attack in Paris. As Franco-Americans, we say with a special conviction, 'nous n'oublierons jamais—'we will never forget.'"

We now know that not only has ISIS claimed credit for this attack, but at least one of the attackers was a Syrian refugee. We also know that President Barack Obama has vowed to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States, despite his own FBI director testifying to Congress last month that the federal government is unable to conduct background checks on them.

To bring Syrian refugees into our country without knowing who they are is to invite an attack on American soil just like the one we saw in Paris last week and in New York City on 9/11. That is why I adamantly oppose any attempt by the federal government to place Syrian refugees in Maine, and will take every lawful measure in my power to prevent it from happening.

The safety of Maine citizens comes first, and it is about time the United States and Europe wake up to the nature of the threat against us in the form of radical terrorism,

Despite such reactions, President Obama is continuing with plans to accept refugees from Syria. Responding to calls to admit Christians but not Muslims into the country, he said, "That's shameful. That's not American, it's not who we are," said LePage.

"We don't have religious tests to our compassion," he said, speaking from the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey.

But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a letter to the president that, "Neither you nor any federal official can guarantee that Syrian refugees will not be part of any terroristic activity. As such, opening our door to them irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans to unacceptable peril."

USA TODAY LIST OF REFUGEES BY STATE

One refugee advocacy organization said the governors are setting themselves up for a discrimination lawsuit.

"You can't restrict certain nationalities coming to your state," said Jen Smyers, director of policy and advocacy with the Immigration and Refugee Program at Church World Service.

Related stories:Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner becomes the eighth governor to refuse to accept Syrian refugees

USA Today contributed to this report.


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