Hawaii Republican Party Chair Fritz Rohlfing said Tuesday that the state’s “over-taxed social safety net” can’t handle Syrian refugees.
“We feel sympathy for the refugees coming from Syria and the Middle East, but Hawaii is still grappling with a homeless crisis that has yet to be resolved by our local politicians,” he said in a statement.
Rohlfing rejected Democratic Gov. David Ige’s statement Monday that said Hawaii — and the country — would be betraying its own values if it slammed the door in their face.
“Hawaii is the Aloha State, known for its tradition of welcoming all people with tolerance and mutual respect,” Ige said, underscoring that security would remain the top priority and he would ensure resources were available before accepting any refugees.
Rohlfing is one of a growing number of Republicans across the country who are speaking out against the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S. as a reaction to the attacks Friday in Paris that killed at least 129 people.
President Obama has said the U.S. will accept 10,000 of the millions of Syrians who are fleeing their war-torn country. Here are six reasons The Guardian has reported explaining why they are seeking refuge elsewhere.
State Sen. Sam Slom, the chamber’s lone Republican, issued a statement Tuesday calling on Ige to reconsider his position.
“Like you, I celebrate Hawaii’s unique Aloha Spirit, openness and sense of welcome,” he said. “However, there are limits and practical realities to every stated policy.”
Rohlfing said the lack of security assurance about the backgrounds and “intentions of some of these refugees” puts Hawaii residents and visitors at risk.
Senior officials in the Obama administration have pointed at the challenges of screening Syrian refugees, despite the exhaustive process and security checks, according to a Washington Post story.
The Hawaii GOP said it agrees with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s statement Tuesday saying, “Our nation has always been welcoming, but we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion.”
The party applauded the governors across the country who have determined the Syrian refugee crisis is not something their states can handle at this time.
As of Tuesday, there were 31 governors from Maine to Idaho — including all of the southern states — who have come out against the resettlement of Syrian refugees, according to CNN.
All are Republican except one, the governor of New Hampshire, who is a Democrat. Huffington Post is keeping a running tally, as some of the governors are presidential candidates.