ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The debate over welcoming Syrian refugees into Maryland is heating up. Almost 80 Maryland lawmakers are pushing the governor to allow refugees to come to the state, but the governor says, right now, it’s not a good idea.
Ava-joye Burnett found out one of the biggest concerns is that extremists could sneak into the country along with innocent refugees.
The debate to allow refugees into the United States reached a fever pitch after the Paris attacks. There are Syrian refugees living in Maryland right now, and there’s a push to allow even more.
Their homeland has been ripped apart amidst a civil war. As hundreds of thousands of Syrians continue to flee their home, lawmakers want Maryland’s governor to do something.
Seventy-six Maryland legislators wrote a letter to Governor Larry Hogan, urging him to change his tune on Syrians moving into Maryland.
Delegate Brooke Lierman from Baltimore supports the letter.
“We play into the hands of ISIS and other extremist groups when we turn our doors and turn our backs on refugees,” said Lierman.
The International Rescue Committee says 29 Syrian refugees have relocated to Maryland within the last seven months — a process that could take up to two years — but there is concern it’s still not strict enough.
After the Paris attacks, many lawmakers — including Governor Hogan- wanted a guarantee that Syrian refugees posed no threat to the U.S.
“We just want assurance that proper vetting is taking place and proper procedures are being followed,” said Gov. Hogan.
“We don’t have the ability to figure out who is here to do us harm and who isn’t. If this administration doesn’t set up that capability, then we should never take immigrants from areas of the world where people have vowed to do us harm,” said Rep. Andy Harris, (R) Maryland.
For groups that work with refugees, they’ve seen success stories.
“Refugees are some of the most humble people, and when they come here, they are extremely grateful to the U.S. for welcoming them,” said Ruben Chandrasekar, International Rescue Committee.
Governor Hogan’s office reiterates the ultimate decision on where refugees will go is up to the federal government.
According to the IRC, in the last year and a half, a total of about 60 Syrian refugees have resettled in Maryland.