With dozens of governors — and a number of Republican presidential candidates — saying that they don't want to accept Syrian refugees, it's good to remember the politicians who are more sympathetic to their plight. Eight governors want the United States to welcome Syrian refugees, while 26 governors have said the opposite. And while states can't outright refuse to accept refugees, politicians can definitely make the immigration process a lot more difficult for people they don't trust.
Opponents of the movement to accept more refugees from Syria argue that the refugees could increase security risks in the United States — even though refugees in Germany, for example, are committing far fewer crimes than Germans citizens on average. Many Americans' resistance to accepting refugees increased after the Paris attacks on Nov. 13 because one of the alleged attackers had a Syrian passport — which was likely either fake or stolen.
Presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Mike Huckabee set the stage with a series of tone-deaf remarks on the matter. On Monday, Huckabee discussed the supposed dangers of accepting Syrian refugees in a Fox News interview, saying that Americans should "wake up and smell the falafel." Cruz and Bush, meanwhile, have supported the United States accepting refugees who are Christian, but not Muslims. President Obama, meanwhile, has criticized this idea, saying that picking and choosing which immigrants to accept based on religious beliefs is "not who we are" as Americans.
Fortunately, these eight governors are bucking the trend, and showing the other governors what it means to be accepting.
1. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Colorado
Hickenlooper announced Monday that Colorado will accept Syrian refugees. In a statement, he explained that protecting national security and helping those in need aren't mutually exclusive obligations. "We will work with the federal government and Homeland Security to ensure the national verification processes for refugees are as stringent as possible. We can protect our security and provide a place where the world's most vulnerable can rebuild their lives."
2. Gov. Dannel Malloy (D), Connecticut
Malloy said Monday that Connecticut will continue accepting refugees from Syria. He said that the amount of security risks posed by refugees is "a small number ... over which you could do a lot of security background checks, and that sort of thing." Like Hickenlooper, Malloy stressed that safety and America's immigrant-welcoming principles can work in harmony. "We should be safe," he told NBC Connecticut. "On the other hand, America has always had a big heart."
3. Gov. Jack Markell (D), Delaware
Markell defended his position on Delaware welcoming Syrian refugees in a CNN op-ed Wednesday. He wrote that the refugees "are attempting to leave dire situations at home," and that the United States should welcome them. The governor also wrote that discrimination against refugees based on religion "directly contradicts one of our oldest and dearest values" as Americans. Markell cited U.N. data indicating that roughly half of the Syrian refugees are children, adding that the United States shouldn't turn its back on those in need.
4. Gov. David Ige (D), Hawaii
Ige said in a statement Monday that Hawaii will welcome Syrian refugees "with aloha." "Hawaii is the Aloha State, known for its tradition of welcoming all people with tolerance and mutual respect." He added that security will still be a priority, and refugees will undergo security screenings before entering the state.
5. Gov. Kate Brown (D), Oregon
Brown announced Tuesday that the state will continue to accept Syrian refugees. She tweeted that Oregon will "open the doors of opportunity" for refugees who come there. "As Oregonians, it is our moral obligation to help [the refugees] rebuild their lives," she wrote in a letter to Oregon Rep. Bill Post (R). Post called on Brown to break her silence on accepting Syrian refugees after her office didn't issue a statement on the situation on Monday.
6. Gov. Tom Wolf (D), Pennsylvania
On Monday, Wolfe defended the decision to welcome Syrian refugees to his state. He also wrote an op-ed for The York Daily Record to explain his decision. "We must not forget that those fleeing Syria — and other places in crisis — are families, elderly, and orphaned children seeking to escape a daily life that includes the same horrific violence that occurred in Paris ... I believe we can keep Pennsylvania safe while also ensuring that Pennsylvania stays true to its values and builds on its rich history of accepting immigrants and refugees from around the world."
7. Gov. Peter Shumlin (D), Vermont
Shumlin said Monday that "The governors who are taking those actions are stomping on the qualities that make America great, which is reaching out to folks when they're in trouble and offering them help, not hurting them." Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful, also tweeted Monday, "We will not turn our backs on the refugees who are fleeing Syria and Afghanistan."
8. Gov. Jay Inslee, Washington
In an interview on NPR's "Morning Edition" Wednesday, Inslee said that Americans "have to win the moral battle, and that's a battle of hope and a vision of the future where we can live together." He added that accepting Syrian refugees is a part of that vision. "We do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism," he said in a statement Monday.
These governors are proving that security doesn't have to mean neglecting to help those in need. Hopefully, other states' governors will take a cue from their policies of acceptance.