Cathleen Allison / AP
Published Monday, Nov. 16, 2015 | 6:30 p.m.
Updated Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 | 8:45 a.m.
Gov. Brian Sandoval joined at least 23 other Republican governors in opposing Syrian refugee resettlement in their states.
In a letter to President Barack Obama released late Monday night, Sandoval asked the White House to review its intake process and that no additional Syrian refugees be admitted to Nevada until that review had been completed.
“I am specifically concerned about the background checks performed for Syrian refugees sent to Nevada for resettlement, and would appreciate further guidance on the benefits eligibility of such persons while they reside here,” Sandoval wrote.
Earlier Monday, Sandoval said in a statement that he was committed to the safety of all Nevadans, but did not specifically mention Syrian refugees, implying that he believed the matter would be more appropriately handled by the federal government.
“We must balance our nation's role as an international leader with the safety and security of our citizens and visitors,” Sandoval said in the earlier statement.
Throughout Monday, pressure mounted from Republican leaders in the state — including Sen. Dean Heller, GOP Chairman Michael McDonald and state Assemblyman John Moore — who called for Sandoval to deny Syrian refugees entry.
“While I recognize the merits of assisting refugees during a time of crisis, I also need assurances that the safety of Nevadans will not be compromised as a result of accepting refugees,” Heller wrote in his letter. “Unfortunately, at this time, there are too many unanswered questions about the effectiveness of the program and ultimately the number of Syrian refugees who may come to our state after being resettled elsewhere in the U.S.”
Democratic candidate for Senate Catherine Cortez Masto voiced concerns this evening, saying that law enforcement and the intelligence agencies needed to review the intake process for Syrian refugees. “In light of ISIS’ despicable exploitation of the refugee crisis to target the West, we must ensure that our vetting process for accepting Syrian refugees is as thorough as possible,” she said in a statement.
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, the agency responsible for resettling refugees across the state, reported last month that it had resettled nine Syrian refugees in Nevada this year.
The governors of at least 24 states have announced that they would not accept Syrian refugees, according to CNN. Of those, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan is the only Democrat.
The governors raised security concerns about the refugees after a Syrian passport was found near one of the suicide bombers in Paris. Greek officials have said that the passport was used to enter the country on the island of Leros — one of the points of entry to Greece for Syrian refugees — in October.
The governors’ announcements clash with President Barack Obama’s plan for the United States to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year. The State Department affirmed its commitment today to take in that same number of refugees.
Rep. Joe Heck signed a letter today urging Obama to halt the admissions of all Syrian refugees into the country. “Our first priority must be to protect our own citizens from harm,” the letter reads. “We urge your immediate action to suspend these admissions until effective vetting and monitoring processes are established that ensures the safety of the American people.”