Some U.S. governors and elected officials have attempted to draw a link between the tragedy in Paris and the admission and resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. The ACLU rejects this fear mongering and calls on elected officials to welcome refugees fleeing brutality in Syria. 

Resources

Federal Court Blocks Indiana's Attempts to Interfere With Syrian Refugee Resettlement (February 29, 2016)

Statement on Senator Mark Kirk’s efforts to halt Syrian refugee resettlement to U.S. (February 8, 2016)

ACLU Vote Recommendation to Senate Opposing H.R. 4038, the “American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015" (January 19, 2016)

Texas Health and Human Services Commission v. United States of America (December 4, 2015)

ACLU Vote Recommendation Opposing Paul Amendment No. 2899 to FY2016 Budget Reconciliation (December 3,2015)

ACLU Letter to Senate HSGAC Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member Carper Opposing S. 2300, the “American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015" (December 1, 2015)

ACLU Sues Indiana Governor Seeking Relief for Syrian Refugees (November 23, 2015)

"States of Fear" (November 20, 2015)

ACLU Comment on House Refugee Resettlement Vote (November 19, 2015)

"Governors’ Threats to Exclude Syrian Refugees Are Not Only Fear Mongering — They're Unconstitutional" (November 18, 2015)

ACLU Vote Recommendation Opposing H.R. 4038, the “American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015" (November 18, 2015)

ACLU, Coalition Urge Congress to Continue Support for US Refugee Resettlement Program (November 17, 2015)

Sign-On Letter to Congress re Syrian Refugees and U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program (November 17, 2015)

ACLU Comment on Efforts to Restrict Refugee Resettlement to US (November 16, 2015)

ACLU affiliates across the United States have reacted to their governors statements either condemning or welcoming refugees fleeing Syria.

States Where Governors Made Negative Statements:

1.ACLU of Alabama

The ACLU of Alabama condemns Governor Bentley’s reactionary attempt to refuse to resettle Syrian refuges in the state of Alabama. America is known for welcoming refugees fleeing brutal conflict and offering a safe place for them and their children to live. By refusing to do so, Governor Bentley turns his back on American values and the values of this great state.

Moreover, the Governor does not have the authority to do so. The resettlement of refugees is determined by the U.S. State Department. States don’t have veto power in this area. It violates the Constitution for Governor Bentley to bar an entire group of refugees from coming into the state because of their nationality.

Additionally, singling out Syrian refugees does not make practical sense. The U.S. has a rigorous and multi-layered security screening program in place for refugee resettlement that includes background checks by multiple agencies. Refugees undergo extensive biometric tests, medical screenings, and in-person interviews with Department of Homeland Security officials. We urge Governor Bentley to stop the rhetoric of racial profiling, religious discrimination, and discrimination based on national origin and to uphold the values our constitution protects.

The ACLU of Alabama will continue to do so.

2.ACLU of Arizona

Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona said:

“Drawing a link between the tragedy in Paris and the admission and resettlement of refugees in the U.S. is nothing more than fear-mongering that blames refugees for the very terror they are fleeing. By standing in the way of aiding victims of war and calamity, Gov. Ducey further tarnishes the state’s reputation by reinforcing the idea that Arizonans are intolerant and unwelcoming. It also recklessly advances stereotypes that foment racist and anti-Muslim aggression.

“The U.S. has been a leader in resettling refugees from Vietnam, the former Soviet Union, and many other regions of the world. Gov. Ducey should not stand in the way of this proud tradition of extending a hand to people who are simply trying to find a safe, welcoming place to call home.”

3.ACLU of Arkansas

ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director Rita Sklar issued this response to Governor Asa Hutchinson’s threat to keep Syrian refugees out of Arkansas.

“We are disappointed by Gov. Hutchinson’s threat to prevent Syrian refugees from settling in Arkansas. By turning his back on those fleeing a brutal conflict and seeking a safe place for themselves and their children, Governor Hutchinson dishonors the values of the hospitable people of Arkansas and the ideals upon which this great country was founded.

“Every schoolchild knows that American colonies were started as safe havens for the victims of tyranny and prejudice. America is known worldwide as the welcoming beacon to the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

“By attempting to exclude this one group of people and tarnish them with the stain of terrorism, of which they themselves are victims, Governor Hutchinson is appealing to fear and prejudice, and thereby debasing us as Arkansans and Americans. I say ‘attempting,’ because governors do not have this power.

"Refugee settlement is the purview of the U.S. State Department and an extremely rigorous process involving multiple background checks and vetting by the Department of Homeland Security. Given the fact that states have no power over immigration, and cannot bar people from its borders because of their nationality, the governor’s position is not only un-American, but unconstitutional; it is pure grandstanding and appeals to our worst instincts.

“We call on Governor Hutchinson to instead affirm Arkansas and American values, and offer sanctuary, not condemnation and rejection, to those in need.”

4.ACLU of Florida

ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon stated:

“Governor Scott should not turn his back on our nation’s long and proud history of offering refuge to those escaping from conflict zones – of welcoming the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

“We mourn those lost in the horrific attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad, and wish to express our condolences, grief and condemnation. However, we must also warn against what we have often seen since 9/11: the impulse in the wake of a terrorist attack to overreact and curtail the freedoms that make our country great.

“By calling for the refugees fleeing Syria to be denied placements because of some perceived link between those fleeing violence and the perpetrators of that violence, Governor Scott is letting fear take control. Not only is the settlement of refugees an obligation of the U.S. State Department, not state governors, but the U.S. refugee system is extremely rigorous, involving multiple background checks and vetting by the Department of Homeland Security. By claiming in the wake of the tragedy in Paris that this vetting process is suddenly insufficient for Florida, Governor Scott is punishing refugees for the horrible attacks perpetrated by the kinds of terrorists they are trying to escape.

We should not give in to impulses to deny people rights based on their national origin, race, or religion. Instead of blaming Syrian refugees for the very violence they are escaping, we call on Governor Scott to affirm the need for refugees to have a place to take sanctuary from the brutality of ISIS.”

5.ACLU of Illinois

“We regret that Governor Bruce Rauner, in the wake of the horrible terrorist attacks in Paris, joined the backlash against Syrian refugees. These refugees – fleeing the horror and violence of extremists in Syria – should not be victims anew because of the actions of a few individuals in Paris.

Additionally, refugee admission long has been a federal matter, reflecting our values as a nation, under terms defined by the U.S. Department of State. States have never been given veto power in this area, and should not be afforded one now, especially a discriminatory veto aimed at individuals because of their nationality.

We urge Governor Rauner to re-think this misguided policy and affirm the need to welcome Syrian refugees who are fleeing the brutality of ISIS.”

6.ACLU of Indiana

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is deeply saddened that Governor Mike Pence has joined the backlash against Syrian refugees in the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris. These refugees are fleeing violence and oppression and should not be blamed for the very terror they are fleeing. We caution public officials against any reflexive reactions to curtail our civil liberties and target individuals because of their nationality in response to these horrific events. Refugee admission has long been a federal matter in which states do not have authority. We urge Governor Pence to rethink his position and affirm the need for refugees to seek sanctuary from the brutality of terrorism.

7.ACLU of Iowa

Jeremy Rosen, executive director of the ACLU of Iowa, issued a statement Tuesday, objecting to Iowa’s Gov. Terry Branstad making a statement and issuing a press release calling for state agencies to halt any efforts to resettle Syrian refugees.

“We are deeply disappointed by today’s decision by Governor Branstad that Iowa state agencies must stop any efforts to resettle Syrian refugees in our state,” Rosen said. “This decision is both morally and legally wrong. These refugees are fleeing terrorism in their home country. Politicians should not falsely link the tragedy in Paris with the settlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. Iowans are welcoming people who understand our moral obligation to help people in need. The governor should allow the people of our state to continue showing that compassion.”

Additionally, Rosen said that “the governor has no authority over refugee resettlement; only the President or other federal officials can make a decision of this nature. We call on Governor Branstad to reconsider this rash decision, and to stop engaging in fear-mongering.”

8. ACLU of Kansas

 The following statement on the governor’s action may be attributed to Micah Kubic, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kansas:

“It is unfortunate that Gov. Brownback has capitulated to the craven politics of fear mongering on this issue.  When he served in the U.S. Senate, Gov. Brownback was a champion of the cause of refugees – consistently arguing for the United States to welcome individuals escaping from humanitarian and human rights crises, including those in Darfur and North Korea.  Sadly, Gov. Brownback has turned his back on an issue in which he was once a leader, choosing instead to be complicit in the fabrication of a link between the awful tragedy in Paris and the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

The governor’s decision to issue this executive order is badly wrong – because it blames refugees for the terror from which they are fleeing, because it betrays Kansas values of hospitality and compassion, and because it is flies in the face of the laws of this country.  The openly, blatantly, brazenly discriminatory nature of the executive order raises grave legal concerns, and should be abhorrent to all Kansans who believe in the values on which our country was founded.”

9.ACLU of Louisiana

The ACLU of Louisiana joins all those around the world who have expressed their grief, outrage, and condolences in the wake of the recent attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad. We are further dismayed by Governor Bobby Jindal’s unlawful and unenforceable attempt to bar refugees fleeing that same violence from resettling in Louisiana.

Gov. Jindal’s executive order is simply wrong in all particulars. It incorrectly blames the victims of terrorist violence for their own plight, and falsely suggests that welcoming Syrian refugees would put the people of Louisiana at risk. The order also violates United States law, the Louisiana Constitution, as well as the values on which our country was founded: it is unconstitutional to bar an entire group of people entry to Louisiana based on their race, religion, or nationality.

The governor has overreached his office in this matter, as he done so many times before. The Governor of Louisiana simply lacks the legal authority to create or deny affirmative rights.  Another of Gov. Jindal’s unlawful executive orders, the “Marriage and Conscience Order,” is currently the subject of an active ACLU of Louisiana lawsuit, and he has been successfully sued over other such orders in the past. This is yet another example of Gov. Jindal attempting to put his personal prejudices before the law.

We urge the governor to rescind his order, and to affirm the need to act both lawfully and with compassion during this time of crisis.

10.ACLU of Maine

The following can be attributed to Alison Beyea, executive director of the ACLU of Maine:

"We are saddened by calls from our governor and others to turn our backs on the world's most vulnerable people, when they need us the most. If we shut out refugees fleeing the horror and violence of extremists in Syria, we are refusing to help the victims of the very terrorism we decry.

"As Gov. LePage, himself a proud Franco-American, can attest - people come to the United States from all over the world seeking better lives for themselves and their children. The U.S. has long been a leader in refugee protection and resettlement. Now, more than ever, we must show courageous and bold leadership, and resist condemning people because of where they are from."

11.ACLU of Maryland

The following can be attributed to Sirine Shebaya, attorney directing the ACLU of Maryland's immigrant's rights advocacy:

 "The ACLU of Maryland is deeply saddened by Governor Larry Hogan's request that the federal government not allow any more Syrian refugees to come to Maryland, a decision that goes against our common humanity. To shut the door in the face of those who are the most severely harmed by the very actions we so loudly condemn in Paris is to say that some lives - those of the Syrian refugees and their children - do not matter and are expendable.

Maryland did not hear calls to ban Irish immigrants when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was active, or calls to ban people from Spain when Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) was active.  The current calls have nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with our inability to see Syrian refugees as fellow humans doing the same thing people have done since time immemorial - flee war, death, and destruction.  To shut out Syrian families trying to rescue their children from persecution and in some cases starvation, is to refuse to help the victims of the very terrorism we decry.

Calls to bar Syrian refugees from American soil, in addition to being immoral, are also blatantly illegal. Refugee resettlement is a federal matter over which states have no authority. And freedom from racial profiling, religious discrimination, and discrimination based on national origin are at the heart of the values our constitution protects. Such calls go against our laws and our values, and are a dangerous invitation to the public at large to engage in the same illegal and immoral discriminatory conduct.

Moreover, singling out refugees doesn't make practical sense. The U.S. already has a rigorous and multi-layered security screening program in place for refugees seeking to resettle here. All refugees must pass multiple background checks, biometric tests, medical screenings, and in-person interviews with the Department of Homeland Security. They are subjected to more screening than any other individual who travels to the U.S.

The U.S. has long been a leader in refugee protection and resettlement. Now, more than ever, we must show courageous and bold leadership, and resist condemning people because of where they are from."

12.ACLU of Michigan

Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan, has issued a statement urging Gov. Rick Snyder to reconsider his recent decision to back away from a plan to relocate hundreds of Syrian refugees in Michigan.

"We are deeply disappointed that our governor has announced that he would suspend his efforts to resettle refugees from Syria in Michigan, particularly at such a critical juncture. America has long prided itself on its rich history of embracing refugees fleeing from persecution and war--and we see no reason for Gov. Snyder to tarnish that legacy. Given that immigration is a federal matter over which states do not have veto power, it would violate the Constitution for any governor to bar an entire group of refugees from coming into a state because of their nationality.

We strongly urge our state’s leaders to welcome Syrian refugees who are fleeing the brutality of ISIS.  Anything less inspires Islamophobia and feeds a hateful climate  that puts Michigan residents at risk.  This is a time for Michigan to offer leadership that is brave, humane and compassionate."

Moss' was joined in her statement by Dr. Yaya Basha, a Syrian-American physician and an ACLU Advisory Board member. "It is not fair to pick on the victims of war and terrorism," said Basha. "To deny them refuge only rewards tyranny and the unconscionable violence of Isis."

America has long prided itself on its rich history of embracing refugees fleeing from persecution and war--and we see no reason for Gov. Snyder to tarnish that legacy.

13.ACLU of Mississippi

ACLU of Mississippi Vice Chairman Jack Williams has issued the following statement on behalf of the organization in response to Governor Bryant’s attempt to block Syrian refugees from being placed in Mississippi.

“Although Governor Bryant has the difficult responsibility of protecting his citizens’ safety, he should do so while respecting the federal executive branch’s responsibility for foreign affairs. He should do so while respecting the federal government’s responsibility for setting refugee and asylum policy.

We ask that he learn from hysterias of years past, hysterias that led to the internment of Japanese American citizens and to the exclusion of Jewish refugees from our shores as they fled the tyranny of Nazism. 

The ACLU of Mississippi urges Governor Bryant to welcome Syrian refugees who are fleeing the brutality of ISIS.”

14.ACLU of Nebraska

Statement from Danielle Conrad, Executive Director, ACLU of Nebraska:

"The ACLU mourns the horrific attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad and would like to express our grief, condolences and condemnation. At the same time, we caution against any reflexive reactions of politicians to curtail our civil liberties in response to those attacks. One lesson we have learned in the last decade is that when there is a terrorist attack, there is a tendency on the part of some to react by seeking to limit the very freedoms we need to protect. 

The mass exodus from Syria consists of refugees who are fleeing the same kind of terror we saw inflicted on Paris. We can’t blame the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Syria for the actions of a few individuals.  Efforts to block refugee resettlement in their states blames refugees for the very terror they are fleeing and erodes our own civil liberties by violating our constitutional values of equal protection. Profiling people based on their religion or race is unconstitutional and it is ineffective because it alienates targeted communities from law enforcement. " 

15.ACLU of Nevada

Statement from Tod Story, Executive Director of ACLU of Nevada:

While we mourn the tragic loss of life as a result of recent terrorist actions in Paris and elsewhere, we must cling to the values that set us apart from those who seek to do us harm.

We are a nation of immigrants. Our families were drawn here for generations by our country’s principles of self-determining liberty, and freedom. When statements singling out ethnicities, races, or places of origin are made to limit immigration, we must remember our own family histories. To do otherwise leads us to the outcomes the terrorists desire. Have we not learned from the shameful periods of discriminatory nationalism from our past?  Let’s not revive those ugly, unconstitutional episodes again.

Given our own histories, we should welcome all immigrants—especially now that Syrian refugees seek to protect their families from the strife and terror they are fleeing. Which one of us would not do the same for our families?

States have no power or authority over federal immigration law, so statements to the contrary are nothing more than demagoguery, fueling a fervor of fear. Why compound the suffering of refugees by shunning them when they seek a better life for their families? It’s the very reason most of us are citizens.

16.ACLU of New Hampshire

Following the attacks in Paris, the ACLU of New Hampshire calls upon all policy makers, at the federal and state levels, to affirm the need to welcome Syrian refugees who are fleeing the brutality of ISIS.

The following can be attributed to Devon Chaffee, the Executive Director of the ACLU of New Hampshire:

“The ACLU of New Hampshire is deeply saddened by Governor Hassan’s call to close America’s door to Syrian refugees fleeing violence and oppression. Attempting to draw a link between the tragedy in Paris and the resettlement of Syrian refugees wrongly blames the refugees for the violence they are fleeing. To shut out Syrian families trying to rescue their children from persecution and in some cases starvation, is to refuse to help the victims of the very terrorism we decry.

Moreover, singling out refugees doesn’t make practical sense. The U.S. already has a rigorous and multi-layered security screening program in place for refugees seeking to resettle here. All refugees must pass a multiple background checks, biometric tests, medical screenings, and in-person interviews with the Department of Homeland Security. They are subjected to more screening than any other individual who travels to the U.S.

The U.S. has long been a leader in refugee protection and resettlement. Now, more than ever, we must show courageous and bold leadership, and resist condemning people because of where they are from.”

17.ACLU of New Jersey

The following statement is attributable to ACLU-NJ Executive Director Udi Ofer:

“As New Jerseyans, we’re deeply disappointed that Governor Christie would turn his back on refugees who are trying to escape exactly what he fears: terrorism. This kind of fear-mongering blames refugees for the very terror they are fleeing, and it erodes our civil rights and civil liberties.

“Resettlement of refugees is a matter handled by the U.S. State Department, not individual governors. States don’t have veto power in this area, and it would violate the Constitution for a governor to bar an entire group of refugees based on nationality, religion, race, or ethnicity.

“New Jersey in particular has been a haven for those who need refuge the most, and Christie’s sentiments go against American principles and the principles of the people of our state. We stand in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France commemorating our revolutionary devotion to freedom and a symbol of welcome to immigrants the world over.

“Christie’s extreme response to the question of Syrian refugees underestimates the safeguards in place to ensure our security. The United States is known for being painstakingly rigorous in screening refugees seeking to resettle in America. Christie’s blanket refusal to consider accepting even a small part of the largest flow of humanity since the Second World War speaks to an indiscriminate distrust of people who seek better lives on our shores.”

18.ACLU of New Mexico

“We urge Governor Martinez to reject fear-mongering & to uphold our nation's laws and values by welcoming Syrian refugees fleeing terror.”

19.ACLU of North Carolina

Following the attacks in Paris, some U.S. governors, including North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, and federal lawmakers have moved to restrict the planned resettlement of Syrian refugees to the United States.

Cecillia Wang, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants' Rights Project, said:

"Some politicians have attempted to fabricate a link between the tragedy in Paris and the resettlement of Syrian refugees to the United States. Making policy based on this fear mongering is wrong for two reasons. It is factually wrong for blaming refugees for the very terror they are fleeing, and it is legally wrong because it violates our laws and the values on which our country was founded."

20.ACLU of Ohio

ACLU of Ohio executive director Christine Link issued the following statement in response to attempts by Ohio politicians to block the settlement of Syrian refugees:

“Together we extend our deepest sympathy to those who are living in the wake of violence this past week. As we express our condolences, we also recognize this as a critical moment to reaffirm our values.

Here in Ohio, politicians are fabricating a link between the tragedy in Paris and resettlement of refugees in the United States. Pushing fear and false information is the wrong response to these acts. Blaming those fleeing violence does nothing to keep us safe, and erodes our own freedoms.

In difficult times it is most important for us to remember the freedoms we seek to protect. The last decade has shown us that using fear to make public policy creates grave challenges to our own freedoms.

We must not sacrifice our values for the fleeting comfort of reactionary solutions. Racial profiling, religious discrimination, and exclusion based on national origin run counter to our principles and our laws. We call on Gov. Kasich and Ohio political leaders to make the difficult choice to do what is right, not what is easy.”

21.ACLU of South Carolina

“ACLU of South Carolina calls on Governor Haley to rethink policy of denying refugee to Syrians fleeing terror.”

22.ACLU of Tennessee

The following can be attributed to Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee:

ACLU-TN is very disappointed with Governor Haslam’s request to the federal government to suspend the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Tennessee. We mourn and condemn the horrific attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad. However, the attempt by Governor Haslam and other lawmakers to draw a link between such tragedies and the admission and resettlement of Syrian refugees in Tennessee is a reflexive overreaction. The U.S. already has an extremely rigorous and multi-layered security screening program in place for refugees seeking to resettle here. Attempting to block refugee resettlement in Tennessee blames refugees for the very terror they are fleeing, and erodes our own civil liberties.

23.ACLU of Texas

The following can be attributed to Terri Burke, Executive Director, ACLU of Texas:

“First, I’m extremely perplexed as to how the Governor plans to close off the entire Texas border. The State has already funneled a needless $800 million to deploy troops to our 1,200-plus mile southern border to stop kids and families fleeing violence in Central America from entering the country. Now he wants to use taxpayer money to close off the rest of the state’s thousands of miles of border to Syrian refugees, whether they’re flying from New York or driving from Texarkana? I would like to know just how he plans to do that. It’s truly baffling. Once again, Texas is the laughing stock of the nation.

“But the bottom line is, refugee admission is a federal matter, reflecting our values as a nation. Texas and other states don’t have veto power in this area. That’s why it would violate the Constitution for a governor to bar an entire group of refugees from coming into their state because of their nationality. Refugees who are fleeing the horror and violence of places from Central America to Syria, as well as the integrity of our refugee resettlement system, should not fall victim to horrible attacks perpetrated by a few individuals.”

24.ACLU of West Virginia

We urge Gov. Tomblin to reject fear-mongering & to oppose efforts to restrict resettling Syrian refugees fleeing terror.

25.ACLU of Wisconsin

The ACLU of Wisconsin released the following statement about remarks from Wisconsin legislators about turning away Syrian refugees.  The following statement can be attributed to Christopher Ahmuty, Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin:

“We are saddened by calls from our governor and others to turn our backs on the world's most vulnerable people when they need us the most.

We mourn and condemn the horrific attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad. However, the attempt by Governor Walker and other lawmakers to draw a link between such tragedies and the admission and resettlement of Syrian refugees in Wisconsin is a reflexive overreaction. The U.S. already has an extremely rigorous and multi-layered security screening program in place for refugees seeking to resettle here. Attempting to shut out refugee resettlement in Wisconsin blames refugees for the very terror they are fleeing, and erodes our own civil liberties.

The governor's and other Wisconsin legislators’ position is badly wrong.  It betrays Wisconsin values of hospitality and compassion, and flies in the face of the laws of this country.  The brazenly discriminatory nature of this position raises grave legal concerns, and should be abhorrent to all Wisconsinites who believe in the values on which our country was founded.”

States Where Governors Made Positive/Neutral Statements:

1.ACLU of Alaska

In light of Alaska Governor Bill Walker’s courageous leadership on Syrian refugees, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska issued the following statement, which may be attributed to Executive Director Joshua A. Decker:

“The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska is pleased that Governor Bill Walker has refused to use the tragedy in Paris to govern through fear-mongering. Unlike some other states’ governors, who have announced that they will try to bar Syrian refugees from their states, Alaska’s governor has courageously led.

“As Governor Walker correctly pointed out, state leaders do not have the authority to turn refugees away: immigration policy is a federal issue and federal officials make those decisions. Governors who are attempting to do so are grandstanding, and their actions speak to their lack of understanding and empathy for the ordeal that Syrian refugees face daily.

“The children, women, and men fleeing Syria are trying to escape the same violence and chaos that we saw in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad. It is unfair—and factually wrong—to exploit these tragedies by blaming them on refugees. And it is legally wrong because it violates our state and country’s founding values: Alaskans are proud of being a welcoming state. Three of the top ten most diverse zip codes in the U.S. are in Alaska and people from all over the world have made their home here, a testament to our generous and hospitable nature.

“Unfortunately, Senator Dan Sullivan does not share Alaskans’ view. Choosing instead to stand with Outside politicians, Senator Sullivan’s statement that no Syrian refugees should be allowed into the United States is completely misguided. The U.S. is already one of the most difficult countries to enter as a refugee: our screening process is the most stringent in the world and can take up to two years to pass. Individuals seeking resettlement here must go through a rigorous, multi-layered screening program: they must clear numerous background checks, biometric tests, medical screenings, and in-person interviews with Homeland Security officials. It’s disappointing that Senator Sullivan is copying colleagues from outside Alaska by trying to obstruct the long, arduous process of seeking safety and freedom in America. Impeding efforts to find refuge in the Last Frontier or the Land of the Free is contrary to both our Alaskan and American values.

“Thank you, Governor Walker, for making Alaskans proud.”

2.ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of San Diego, ACLU of Southern California

"Some politicians have attempted to fabricate a link between the tragedy in Paris and the resettlement of Syrian refugees to the United States. Making policy based on this fear mongering is wrong for two reasons. It is factually wrong for blaming refugees for the very terror they are fleeing, and it is legally wrong because it violates our laws and the values on which our country was founded.”

3.ACLU of Colorado

“Thank you Governor John Hickenlooper for rejecting fear-driven governing & for protecting refugees fleeing terror in Syria.”

4.ACLU of Connecticut

Statement from Stephen Glassman, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, on Connecticut’s continuing commitment to accept refugees:

“The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut applauds the leadership that many of our elected officials have displayed by bucking the anti-refugee, fear-mongering, Islamophobic demagoguery of many other states’ governors.  By reinforcing our commitment to welcome  people in desperate circumstances, Governor Dannel Malloy, Senator Chris Murphy, Senator Richard Blumenthal and many others, are not just honoring basic human decency but also the laws of this country. As my ACLU colleagues have pointed out, the federal government decides who is admitted into this country, not the states, and all ‘legally admitted noncitizens are free to live in any state so long as they comply with any federal requirements.’

“In addition, discrimination based on national origin, religion, and ancestry is clearly unconstitutional. The same fear tactics and stereotyping have been used against Germans, Italians, Irish, Chinese, Catholics, and Jews more than 100 years ago, as well as the Vietnamese after the conclusion of the Viet Nam war in 1975. We are proud to see that Connecticut’s leaders have taken the  responsible course of action and not callously targeted the victims of violence and starvation with hateful rhetoric. We welcome our future neighbors to the Constitution State and will work to protect their individual freedoms just as vigorously as those who have arrived here as refugees over the last two hundred years.”

5.ACLU of Hawaii

“Mahalo Governor David Ige for rejecting fear-driven governing and for protecting refugees fleeing terror in Syria.”

6.ACLU of Minnesota

“Thank you Governor Mark Dayton for rejecting fear-driven governing & for protecting refugees fleeing terror in Syria.”

7.ACLU of Missouri

“We urge  Gov. Jay Nixon to show courageous leadership & uphold our laws by welcoming Syrian refugees fleeing terror.”

8.ACLU of Montana

“We applaud Governor Bullock’s refusal to allow fear to trump common sense by issuing a blanket condemnation of all Syrian refugees, as many other governors have done. As Governor Bullock’s statement recognizes, Montanans’ safety can be protected without sacrificing the values on which our country was founded.”

9.ACLU of Oregon

“Thank you Gov. Brown for welcoming Syrian refugees fleeing terror and upholding our nation's laws and values.”

10.ACLU of Pennsylvania

“We applaud Gov. Tom Wolf’s courageous leadership in welcoming Syrian refugees fleeing terror and upholding our nation's laws and values.”

11.ACLU of Rhode Island

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island today released the following statement:

"The ACLU of Rhode Island is deeply concerned by calls from legislators and others to close Rhode Island's doors to any Syrian refugees fleeing from violence and oppression. Rather than ceding to this parochialism, Governor Raimondo should instead be reaffirming the position she espoused just two months ago in response to this humanitarian crisis, when she stated that 'if Rhode Island is called upon … we’ll be ready to help.'

"For decades, Rhode Island has been a welcoming environment for immigrants and refugees from around the world, including Syria. We should take pride in this. Whether any particular person deserves to be given refugee status obviously needs to be made on a case-by-case basis, but no refugee should be denied consideration solely because of their ethnicity or national background.

"At various times and for various reasons, Rhode Island, like the rest of the country, has witnessed similar calls against the resettling of other ethnicities, including the Irish and the Italian. The stereotyping that took place then remains just as wrong today.

"The attacks in France were horrific, but to essentially blame these heinous acts on all the innocent residents of Syria who are themselves fleeing from violence does an injustice to what our country and our state stand for. We urge Governor Raimondo not to lend credence to this message of intolerance, and to instead affirm the need to welcome Syrian refugees who are fleeing the brutality of ISIS."

12.ACLU of South Dakota

The ACLU of South Dakota mourns and condemns the terrorism in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad and would like to express our condolences to those who are living with such violence.

We applaud Governor Daugaard for not joining U.S. Representative Kristi Noem and scores of other politicians across the nation who have attempted to draw a link between the tragedy in Paris and the admission and resettlement of Syrian refugees.

Calls to bar refugees from American soil are blatantly immoral and illegal. Freedom from racial profiling, religious discrimination, and discrimination based on national origin are at the heart of the values our constitution protects. In the wake of terrorism, we must remember to resist the impulse to overreact and suspend the very freedoms that make our country great.

Moreover, singling out refugees does not make practical sense. The U.S. has a rigorous and multi-layered security screening in place for refugee resettlement that includes background checks by multiple agencies. Refugees undergo biometric tests, medical screenings, and in-person interviews with Department of Homeland Security officials.

We urge policy makers at the federal and state level to affirm the need to welcome Syrian refugees who are fleeing the brutality of ISIS.

13.ACLU of Utah

“Proud of Gov. Herbert and Utah for not joining this embarrassing trend.”

14.ACLU of Vermont

“Thank you Gov. Peter Shumlin for rejecting fear-driven governing & for protecting refugees fleeing terror in Syria.”

15.ACLU of Virginia

The following statement may be attributed to ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga:

“The ACLU of Virginia commends Gov. McAuliffe for having the courage not to attempt to block settlement in Virginia of Syrian refugees fleeing violent civil war in their homeland. It’s the right thing to do. To do otherwise would violate the rule of law and subject people to government discrimination based on their ethnicity or religion.  Sadly, some Virginia politicians now are threatening to try to use the legislature to undertake the cruel, fear-based tack that the governor has rejected. Should that happen, the ACLU will stand up for the civil rights and basic humanity of all those affected, including existing and future Virginia residents.”

16.ACLU of Washington

“Thank you, Gov. Inslee, for rejecting Islamophobia and continuing Washington’s tradition of being a welcoming state!”

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