Snyder clarifies Syrian refugees already headed to Michigan OK

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LANSING, Mich. — In a bid to clarify a decision he announced Sunday, Gov. Rick Snyder says Syrian refugees already in the pipeline or who recently arrived or are expected to arrive in Michigan soon will not be stopped. Snyder was the first of dozens of governors to temporarily close their states' doors to incoming refugees; the majority of whom are Republican.

About 20 Syrian refugees already in the midst of coming to Michigan have had to endure a thorough process lasting one to two years, Dave Murray, a spokesperson for Snyder's office told FOX 17.

"These refugees are not part of the current wave of people we're talking about," he said. "They’ve been through very exhaustive background checks. What we're saying now is, in light of what happened, let’s pause and review current safety procedures to see if we can do anything differently or strengthen our process."

Specifically, Snyder is asking the federal government and U.S. Department of Homeland Security to review procedures before assigning any future refugees to Michigan. Murray said the governor's statement made on Sunday was in reference to all future refugees, not just those from Syria.

"Refugees are routinely assigned to other states, but quickly make the decision to come to Michigan because of our welcoming environment and our large Middle Eastern population," Murray said. "The governor has said he wants to make Michigan a first stop for refugees and he still adamantly believes in making the state a welcoming place."

Murray said the federal government places refugees in states across the country, and subsequently reimburses the state for it.

"It's also important to remember that these attacks are the efforts of extremists and do not reflect the peaceful ways of people of Middle Eastern descent here and around the world," Snyder said in a statement.

Citing recent violence in both France and Lebanon, Snyder said the people of those regions remain in his thoughts and prayers.

On Sunday, Snyder said he’d made the decision to suspend efforts to bring refugees to Michigan following Friday's deadly terrorist attacks in Paris. While acknowledging the state’s “rich history of immigration” Snyder said the first priority needs to be protecting the safety of the state’s residents.

In the meantime, several West Michigan agencies are working to aid incoming refugees.

Dr. Sharif Sahibzada is the Imam or director of the Islamic Center and Masjid of Grand Rapids. As the center works with Bethany Christian Services to help incoming refugees, Dr. Sahibzada said he disagrees with Snyder's suspension of welcoming refugees.

"We should not put our hands up against the evil forces, that’s the main thing," said Dr. Sahibzada. "If we have all the resources, all the powers, and we are holding our hands up, that’s not good practice and we are not helping the afflicted peoples.”

Bethany Christian Services' spokesperson Jennifer Gradnigo told FOX 17 that they understand Snyder's position but hope that it is temporary, as they plan to to house 350 refugees this fiscal year (though Gradnigo was unclear what number of refugees they will help will be Syrian). The agency released this statement:

"We are deeply saddened by the attacks in Paris and grieve for those who have lost loved ones. We pray for their strength in this tragic time.

We understand Governor Snyder’s decision to suspend acceptance of Syrian refugees into Michigan. We anticipate this is a temporary response to a devastating situation. Millions of Syrians are fleeing their homes to resettle in neighboring countries. There are still thousands waiting to be resettled. All refugees coming to the United States are vetted first through the United Nations and then through U.S. authorities, including the National Counterterrorism Center, the Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Defense, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. This screening process can take up to two years.

Many refugees are children who arrive as unaccompanied minors, having been separated from their families abroad as they fled violence or disaster. In partnership with local churches and community agencies, Bethany Christian Services provides support to refugee and immigrant families to help them adjust to a new life in the United States.

For more information on the security screening of refugees admitted to the United States, visit http://www.state.gov/j/prm/ra/admissions/index.htm or http://www.refugees.org."

Meanwhile, Dr. Houssam Attal is a pathologist in the Grand Rapids area who immigrated from Syria to the U.S. in 1985. Now he and his family are training with Bethany Christian Services' program to welcome Syrian children into their home, as they have done before with exchange students.

"It will change your life and I’m almost certain it will change it for the better," said Dr. Attal.

His wife, Tamara Miller, said, “Syrian families are really tight-knit, close families. So for children not to have anywhere to go, not to have a cousin, or an Aunt, or an extended family member to take them, they are in dire straits.”

They urge other families to consider opening their homes to foster refugees, especially children from Syria.

"Don't be reluctant to do it," said Dr. Attal. "Talk to the agencies that help you understand this process, talk to other people who fostered in the past, and see what their experience was."

Yet Snyder's move has prompted sharply mixed reactions with debate on FOX 17's own Facebook post of the issue spurring both praise and condemnation for Snyder.

"That was a good decision and I wish he would send the ones back that are already here," Patricia A. Guthrie Dimmitt wrote. "It was a totally stupid idea to have these Syrian refugees come over without vetting then or any other refugees."

Others feel the move paints refugees and the issue too broadly.

"The refugees are fleeing Syria to escape the type of scum orchestrating these types of attacks,"Traver Johnson wrote. "The ones that pulled off the attack in Paris were citizens of Paris. The refugees are not the problem."

Snyder has a well documented history of supporting immigration having established the Michigan Office for New Americans in 2014. This year he declared a week in September to be recognized annually as ‘Welcoming Week’ in Michigan for immigrants.

As recently as this past September, Snyder expressed support and interest in working with the federal government to accept refugees fleeing a war-torn Syria in the Middle East, the Detroit News reported.

The discussions were prompted following an earlier announcement in September from the Obama administration saying the U.S. would take in 10,000 Syrian refugees by September 2016.

On Sunday it was revealed that at least one of the Paris terrorists who killed more than 120 people on Friday entered Europe as just another face in the crowd — embedded in the current wave of Syrian war refugees, CNN reports.

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5 comments

  • arb1

    I agree with halt of new refugee’s, Demcrat’s are completely outta touch that they want to accept 170k over next given how ones that attacked in france came over as refugee’s. Let me guess how it would end they attack after obama is out, lets just say its a republican in office. Democrat’s will put 100% of the blame on him for not protecting the country from obama’s order.

  • Monica Roberts

    Clip You wicked leaders without sin be the first to cast the first stone. I disagree with what you are doing Snyder for this is wicked in Yahweh’s eyes and sight, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob of Isreal. I am praying for you Snyder and all you wicked leaders for Our Father in Heaven to forgive you all, in his son, Yeshua’s blessed name and precious blood, Amen! America is its own terrorist. America is the most wicked nation out of all of the nations, besides the wicked Vatican/Roman Catholic Church. What a bunch of hypocrites. I will tell you right now that God of Israel is against this in closing our doors to these poor Syrian refugees where most or all of them are innocent and with little babies and children. Jesus loved everyone and still loves everyone no matter what. What would Jesus do? Definitely not this wickedness for Jesus is Holy and loving and truthful for Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Yahweh is going to let these refugees in one way or another. Who do you think you are Snyder and all you wicked leaders? You think you are Gods seeing who can have the most control. I advise all you leaders to repent in Yeshua’s precious name and to do it quick. You are also looking to wicked Homeland Security for anwers instead of Yahweh. Homeland is from Satan and it is not good when they get involved with anything because they are a bunch of cruel wicked people. Why are you even listening to the lies of Man Snyder and all you wicked leaders? You should ask Yahweh for eyes to see and ears to hear what he is telling all of you. Stop following with the lying multitude and start praying and listen to what God of Israel and of us all is telling you. You are not going to get righteous answers from man and the multitude. Yahweh’s wrath has already been on America and people are still blind to this, because of America’s wickedness. America is Sodom and Gommorah from the Old Testament. Yahweh burned Sodom and Gommorah down with his fire, and God’s fire is definitely on America. Know also we are in the Last Days on this Wicked earth and Jesus and his angels should be here at anytime, like a thief in the night. Please read your Bibles and you will see everything that is going on in this world; read the Book of Revelations and you will see it. I am talking about the last ours on this earth. Look to Israel, God’s Holy Land and people, the Jews, for Israel is at the heart of everything. Israel is the light to all nations. I pray for the Holy Spirit to wake everyone up fast and repent, in Yeshua’s blessed name and blood. Also, this nation calls good evil and evil good and this nation is blind. Also, Michigan and all nations need to be on our knees to God in repentance everyday, and all these wicked leaders. Yahweh’s wrath is coming full swing on Michigan unless Michigan starts repenting fast and stops mocking God and doing evil in his sight. Yahweh is in charge, not any of you leaders. God bless you Snyder and all you wicked leaders, and everyone on here! God bless you! Shalom! The clock is ticking faster and faster for Yeshua’s return. ❤📖⏳⏰😇🌈

    tray