JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – It is now Day Three in ongoing calls from state legislators and politicians requesting Gov. Jay Nixon suspend Missouri’s participation in refugee settlements. Republican gubernatorial candidate Catherine Hanaway started a petition “asking Governor Nixon to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees.”
The calls and letters started Monday morning before Nixon even issued his stance. Since then, over half of the General Assembly has taken to social media with their own letters, declarations of communication with the Governor’s Office, or support of legislative leaders’ actions.
“The safety of Missourians is my highest priority, and the terrorists who were involved in planning and perpetrating the attacks in Paris must be caught and brought to justice,” Nixon said in a statement Monday afternoon. “The screening process for refugees is the responsibility of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and I call on our federal partners to implement the strongest possible safeguards to protect our state and nation.”
Tuesday night, the White House held a 90-minute phone call with 34 governors to explain how Syrian refugees are approved for entry.
Social media has played such a role in the discussion that Gov. Jay Nixon began trending on Facebook, above normally viral news.
Twenty-two state senators, Speaker of the House Todd Richardson and numerous other state representatives, 6 of 8 congressional representatives, and all gubernatorial candidates, including Democrat Chris Koster, have called for reassessment and/or suspension of the program.
Thirty-one governors, including Democratic New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, have called for a halt to refugee resettlement. Kentucky is currently the only neighboring state to not oppose the policy.
President Barack Obama has called governor’s refusal of refugees “hysterical,” and further, a “potent recruitment tool” for Islamic State militants. State department lawyers have said states cannot lawfully stop refugees from crossing state borders.
The Obama administration announced in September that it wanted to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees before next September.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.