Senator Brian Pettyjohn, a Republican of Georgetown’s 19th district, sent the following letter which expressed specific concerns about allowing Syrian refugees into Delaware in light of the events in Paris and Egypt.
Governor Markell has issued the following response on his Facebook page to those raising questions to the policy.
The United States has always been a welcoming nation. We have always been compassionate and kind to those facing danger and injustice, and in our diversity we have found great strength. The safety and security of Delaware and its citizens are our top priority, but we also must understand we are talking about people fleeing perpetrators of terror. And while any security system can be improved, the federal refugee review system has the highest level of security checks of any traveler to American shores, including biometric and biographic checks as well as in-person overseas interviews by federal officials. These officials are trained to ensure the applicant is indeed a refugee and not a security risk. Collaboration and resources of multiple agencies, including the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense are involved in this screening process. If the federal government decides to place some of those refugees in Delaware, we will work with our federal partners, while expecting them to recognize that the federal government must provide or pay for any services these individuals may need.
With respect sir, Delaware is facing increased crime so much so that a TV series to be based here is called Murdertown. Is this the time to add risk? I hear almost daily from people safety concerns. We are now speaking of reprograming crime fighting money won in a settlement to other uses. People do not see our state government as being credible now.
The problem is that according to high government officials, screening is only as valid as the data sources which are almost nonexistent in large parts of Syria. It would make sense if we started with Iraqi’s who we can screen better or Syrian Christians who are targeted for genocidal treatment. This is not the policy. It may have the best of intentions, but we need to look at better ways to achieve it by looking at refugees who are currently ignored by other nations who are not as hard to screen.