Democratic governor demands halt to refugee settlement in US

As the Daily Beast says, it’s not just Republicans. After more than a dozen GOP governors announced plans to block the relocation of Syrian refugees to their states, New Hampshire’s Democratic governor joined the group. Maggie Hassan’s spokesman told the New Hampshire Union-Leader that safety and security for Americans has to come first:

“Protecting the safety and security of our people is the first responsibility of government,” spokesman William Hinkle said. “And the Governor has always made clear that we must ensure robust refugee screening to protect American citizens, and believes that we must know more of the facts about those who carried out the Paris terrorist attacks and have strong assurances of safety from our intelligence officials before we admit refugees from Syria into the United States.”

Hinkle told The Daily Beast over email that Hassan believes the refugee settlement program should stop immediately.

“The Governor has always made clear that we must ensure robust refugee screening to protect American citizens,” he emailed, “and the Governor believes that the federal government should halt acceptance of refugees from Syria until intelligence and defense officials can assure that the process for vetting all refugees, including those from Syria, is as strong as possible to ensure the safety of the American people.”

That puts a little dent in Barack Obama’s accusations against critics of his refugee policy, does it not? Hassan is not just a Democratic governor, she’s the chief executive in a very important state in the 2016 elections. Tossing around charges of being un-American for opposing a rapid influx of tens of thousands of refugees, especially when that policy allowed at least one of the Paris perpetrators to get into Europe, might be a wee bit impolitic. At the very least, it will force Obama to de-escalate his rhetoric about Republicans and start escalating his fortitude when dealing with ISIS.

Speaking of which, six in ten Americans disagree with Barack Obama that the current strategy used to fight ISIS is successful and want more robust action against the terrorist quasi-state, according to a new Reuters poll. Sixty-three percent now worry that a Paris-style attack will soon play out near them, which makes Obama’s stay-the-course lecturing today more than a little discordant. However, the majority of Americans agree with Obama on one point — no ground troops into Syria:

A majority of Americans want the United States to intensify its assault on the Islamic State following the Paris attacks, but most remain opposed to sending troops to Iraq or Syria, where the militant group is based, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found. …

The poll found that 60 percent of Americans think the United States should be doing more to attack Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. A small majority said they support using airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, but about 65 percent oppose sending special forces to the region, a move that has already been taken by Obama.

When asked about regular ground troops, the opposition grew stronger with 76 percent opposing deploying troops.

Support for deploying ground troops has vacillated over the last fifteen months. Polling in the immediate aftermath of the butchering of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff showed majority support for boots on the ground, at least in some polls, but the lack of targeted attacks on Americans seems to have shifted that figure significantly in the opposite direction. As late as March of this year, a Quinnipiac poll showed 62/30 support for deploying troops to fight ISIS after the death of Kayla Mueller, but eight months later, public opinion has shifted back — at least if this Reuters poll is accurate.

There is also some cognitive dissonance on refugees, too. A majority of 52% believe taking in refugees from Syria makes nations less safe, and the Paris attacks make that pretty clear. On the other hand, the respondents are split 41/40 on the question of whether we should admit refugees anyway. That speaks to a certain segment of the populace willing to take some risks in order to help out people genuinely in distress, but it also may be one of the reasons that almost two-thirds of the respondents think they’ll have to deal with a Paris or Mumbai in their own back yard.

For the moment, the poll is a mixed bag for Obama, but mostly bad news. While he can take some comfort in opposition to US ground troops being deployed for combat in Syria, that fluctuates often enough that it won’t outlast the next attack. Otherwise, people are not buying Obama’s claims to have “contained” ISIS through his leadership, and they’re more concerned about terrorism than they have been in a while. They largely don’t agree that refusing to allow a massive influx of refugees from a terrorism-afflicted region into the country is somehow un-American, and aren’t exactly clamoring for that to happen.

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Jazz Shaw 1:01 PM on April 01, 2023