Wall Street Journal
By Heather Haddon
November 30, 2015
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on Monday that he has directed his staff to examine what options his administration has to block Syrian refugees from resettling in the state and receiving financial aid.
Mr. Christie, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, said his counsel and the state Attorney General’s office are reviewing the state’s role in providing federal assistance to refugees being resettled in the state.
A Syrian family of seven, which arrived on Monday after widespread publicity, is to be resettled in Paterson.
The review isn’t complete, but refugee resettlement is mostly a federal issue, Mr. Christie said. “We are reviewing all of our options, and when I know what all my options are I’ll make a reasoned decision on that,” Mr. Christie said during a campaign event in New Hampshire on Monday afternoon.
Mr. Christie accused the Obama administration of not fully informing state leaders about immigrants from the war-torn nation. “Let us help, let us be part of the process,” Mr. Christie said. “The president has refused to do that. It’s outrageous that he’s refused to do it and it’s put the people of New Jersey at risk.”
In a letter addressed to Mr. Christie on Monday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said the administration stands behind its vetting process and would begin to offer tailored reports to governors about the refugees being resettled in their jurisdictions broken down by nationality, gender and age.
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“Precautions have been added with regard to Syrian refugees, and we continually evaluate whether more precautions are necessary,” Mr. McDonough wrote.
This month, Mr. Christie wrote to the Obama administration to say that he had directed the New Jersey Department of Human Services not to resettle Syrian refugees in the state. Nonprofit organizations are to notify Trenton of any Syrian placements in New Jersey, Mr. Christie wrote.
Despite the governor’s opposition, local religious leaders and activists have continued to prepare for the family of seven. Supporters helped furnish an apartment for them over the weekend.
Mr. Christie said he won’t preview his stance on the family’s arrival until his administration completes its review.
Officials at U.S. Department of State have defended the administration’s security-vetting process for refugees as thorough and lengthy. State Department staff have reached out to governors who have voiced concerns, officials said.
The Nov. 13 attacks in Paris have generated concern about Syrian resettlements. Many fear the administration is accepting more of them without adequate vetting for terrorist connections. Thirty-one governors say their states don’t want the refugees to come.
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