Thursday, November 19, 2015
Rep. Chipman: What I told Gov. Nixon about the refugees
As the world reacted with heartbreak to the tragic attacks in Paris, the focus in the United States quickly turned to the president’s plan to allow an influx of Syrian refugees. Almost immediately the governors from more than half the states around the country expressed their concerns and opt-ed not to participate in the federal government’s resettlement efforts.
In Missouri, however, Governor Nixon did not opt to have Missouri join the long list of states in opposition to the plan. His decision immediately drew criticism from the majority of the state’s elected officials. I, along with several of my fellow colleagues, submitted letters to the governor calling on him to take swift action to reject the president’s plan until all refugees can be thoroughly vetted.
In my letter, I informed Gov. Nixon that,“Prudence dictates that caution must be foremost on our minds. Rushing into an endeavor such as this immensely increases the opportunity for bad actors to gain a foothold they would not otherwise get. The federal government's inability to guarantee the vetting process is reason enough to deny them entry to Missouri.
"Our embassy in Damascus has been closed for almost four years. Our intelligence organizations have failed to fulfill their primary mission in the region. We have no idea who these refugees are or if their intentions are noble.”
I also asked Gov. Nixon, “Are you willing to bet the lives of your family, friends, and neighbors on an attempt to clean up a mess for which the federal government is responsible? I'm not, and neither are the residents of the 120th District.”
The outcry also culminated in a letter, which I co-signed, from House Speaker Todd Richardson, who wrote, “In the wake of the tragic terrorist attacks that took place in Paris and with the continued threat of similar attacks here in the United States, I urge you to take swift action to ensure the safety and well-being of all Missouri citizens. During these difficult times, the state needs you to serve as a strong leader in working with the federal government to ensure a thorough screening process is in place before any refugees are allowed to relocate to this country, and specifically to our state.”
Richardson also emphasized the fact that, “Throughout its history, America has provided refuge to the tired, the poor and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and it is imperative that our doors remain open to those who come to our nation with good intent, while at the same time turning away those who would do us harm.”
In addition to the strong criticism of the governor’s lack of a stance on the issue, several members also proposed calling the legislature into a special session to pass legislation to clarify the state’s position. However, the legislature calling itself into special session is a rare and difficult process as it requires approval from three-quarters of the membership of both the House and Senate.