As of Monday evening, 23 state governors have said that they are seeking to stop the relocation of new Syrian refugees to their states out of fear that violent extremists might pose as refugees and gain entry to the country, the Washington Post reported.
— ACLU National (@ACLU) November 16, 2015
The list includes governors of Illinois, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maine, Iowa, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Alabama, Texas, Kansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
Texas governor Gregg Abbot on Sunday added his state to the list of those refusing Syrian refugees.
"Given the tragic attacks in Paris and the threats we have already seen, Texas cannot participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees – any one of whom could be connected to terrorism – being resettled in Texas," Abbott wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama.
In his letter, Abbott said the Islamic State posed a "very real" risk to Texas, referencing an attack last year in Garland, where a security guard was wounded after being shot outside a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest.
The anti-refugee rhetoric comes despite pleas from experts who say that overreacting to the attacks could play into the hands of extremist groups.
"What is needed is human intelligence, intimate knowledge of Middle Eastern societies. Like the 19th-century anarchists, Islamist terrorists today want to 'sharpen the contradictions' within Western societies," Karim Emile Bitar, a Paris-based professor of international relations at Lebanon's Université Saint-Joseph, told The Christian Science Monitor on Sunday.
"Overreactions and a rise of extreme rhetoric would play in their favor. Governments should not fall into that trap."
In Michigan, a state with a large population of Muslims, Governor Rick Snyder on Sunday said he would prevent such resettlement in his state.
"Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration," Snyder said in a statement. "But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents."
Maged Moughni, a Dearborn attorney and Arab-American advocate, told the Detroit Free Press that Snyder’s decision is "doing what ISIS wants."
"He's just basically buying into what ISIS wants: Muslims against the West… Governor Snyder is buying into the rhetoric," Moughni said.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on Sunday issued a statement, saying "I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm's way."
President Obama on Monday said he remains committed to his administration's plan to admit 10,000 refugees into the United States in 2016. The United States has accepted more than 2,100 refugees from Syria since 2012, most of them in the last year.