Lawmakers urge governor to better vet refugee screening practices

Fourteen members of the Washington State Senate Republican Caucus urged the governor to address state residents’ concerns about federal refugee screening practices amidst security concerns in a letter sent Wednesday.

“Washington should be a state that accepts refugees from war-torn areas of the world, but not at the expense of the safety of Washington residents,” said Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County. “The Governor should not rush to judgment considering the fact one of the Paris terrorists claimed to be a refugee from Syria. Washingtonians deserve a careful and thorough review of the process the federal government plans to use to vet Syrian refugees. We must not blindly trust the federal government.”

Following last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, President Obama announced the United States would accept an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees in the coming months. Thirty governors responded that the President should pause to make sure the vetting process is solid and can guarantee ISIS will not slip terrorists into this country on the pretense they are refugees. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee on the other hand, immediately voiced support for accepting refugees into the state.

In the letter to the governor the senators urge a deliberative and cautious approach:

“We, like you, consider Washington State to be welcoming and gracious, especially to those who come here, legally, from war-torn regions. But not at the expense of the safety of the citizens of the state.

“Perhaps there was a day when the public had confidence in the federal government to effectively vet and prevent terrorists from entering this country. But no longer. Tough questions need to be asked. It is not enough for federal officials to talk of screening fingerprint and biometric information against law enforcement databases when this group of refugees is coming from a country without a functioning government and without any such database.”

Full text of the letter and signatories can be found here.