BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday that he does not support letting Syrian refugees into Massachusetts until the federal government lays out a plan to screen for any potential threats that he finds satisfactory.
“No, I’m not interested in accepting refugees from Syria,” he told reporters. “I would need to know a lot more than I know now before I would agree to do anything.”
Baker joins several other governors who have said their states would reject Syrian refugees following Friday’s deadly attacks in Paris.
A spokesman for President Barack Obama said Sunday that the administration is moving forward with its plan to thoroughly vet and admit as many as 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S.
“My view on this is that the safety and security of the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is my highest priority,” Baker said.
In September, Baker said he’d be open to discussions about sheltering Syrian refugees, and he said Monday that he’s still willing to hear out the Obama administration.
“I’m always going to be at least willing to hear what the federal government has to say,” Baker said. “Hearing what they have to say doesn’t mean saying yes.”
Democratic Boston Mayor Marty Walsh echoed Baker, saying he also wants to know more about how the federal government screens refugees.
“As a city and as a country it is not our custom to turn our backs on people who are in need and who are innocent,” Walsh said in a later statement. “We have yet to receive guidelines from the federal or state government on how they will move forward, however should we be told that Boston is accepting refugees, we will work with our partners at the federal, state and local levels to ensure the safety of Boston residents.”
Baker and Walsh said they have had no conversations with federal officials since the attacks.
Baker’s comments had impacted 28-year-old Mohamad Al Bardan. Mohamad was born and raised in Syria and came to U.S. in 2011, but his family is still lives in Syria. “This is the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War and the U.S. has a responsibility as a leader nation,” Mohamad said.
Mohamad says the Syrian people need the United States’ help now. “I am really sad to read what Governor Baker said. Politicians should not be reactionist. What happened in Paris is a really heartbreaking event but, I don’t think any of the terrorists would think of taking the refugee settlement as a way to get into the U.S. because it would cause them so much trouble,” Mohamad said.
In New Hampshire, Gov. Maggie Hassan said Monday the United States should halt the acceptance of Syrian refugees until intelligence and defense officials can assure a strong process for vetting refugees.
Her comments in the wake of the Paris terror attacks are similar to that of Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, whose seat she hopes to win next fall. Ayotte says no refugees should be allowed into the country until the government can “100 percent guarantee” they are not affiliated with the Islamic State. Hassan also says more facts are needed on how the attackers got into Paris before the United States takes more Syrian refugees.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage also said Monday it is “irresponsible” to let Syrian refugees into America because they could be a threat to the country’s security.
WBZ-TV’s Paul Burton contributed to this report.
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)