Following the attacks in Paris, some U.S. governors and federal lawmakers have moved to categorically block the planned resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.
The ACLU mourns the horrific attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad and we 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 Obama administration plans to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year, all of whom will undergo security screenings that typically take 18 to 24 months. Refugees go through more extensive screening than any other group, such as tourists, students and people who cross the border.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock released a statement on Monday afternoon saying that state officials are reviewing the process of accepting refugees.
“Montana will not allow any terrorist organization to intimidate us into abandoning our values. The safety of Montanans is my top priority. No Syrian refugees have been settled in the state and we have had no formal requests to do so," the governor's statement read. "Montana has a process in place for considering refugee settlement requests; we are reviewing those protocols to ensure that if a request comes, we take all appropriate steps to ensure that the safety of Montanans will not be jeopardized by their placement. If there are safety concerns about any refugees that are requesting settlement, they will be denied.”
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.