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Gov. Hogan Seeks to Block Syrian Refugees; Fellow Politicians and Public Respond

Hogan wants to close Maryland's borders to Syrian refugees, but is that even possible?

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that he will request federal authorities to stop sending Syrian refugees to Maryland until assurances can be made that refugees “pose no threat to public safety.”

In a post to his Facebook page, Hogan stated, “As governor of Maryland, the safety and security of Marylanders remains my first priority. Following the terrorist attacks on Paris just four days ago, and after careful consideration, I am now requesting that federal authorities cease any additional settlements of refugees from Syria in Maryland.”

Hogan’s announcement came one day after more than two-dozen governors—25 Republicans and one Democrat—vowed to prevent Syrian refugees from settling in their states.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland was quick to weigh in, citing Hogan’s statement as “a decision that goes against our common humanity.”

“The current calls have nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with our inability to see Syrian refugees as fellow humans. To shut out Syrian families trying to rescue their children from persecution and in some cases starvation, is to refuse to help the victims of the very terrorism we decry,” said Sirine Shebaya, an attorney directing the ACLU of Maryland’s immigrant’s rights advocacy.

Shebaya also pointed out the lack of legal authority governors hold over the immigration process. “Calls to bar Syrian refugees from American soil, in addition to being immoral, are also blatantly illegal. Refugee resettlement is a federal matter over which states have no authority. And freedom from racial profiling, religious discrimination, and discrimination based on national origin are at the heart of the values our constitution protects.”

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has already made it clear that attracting refugees and immigrants to Baltimore, which has lost a third of its population since 1950, could be in the city’s best interest. She reiterated her point in a statement released today following Hogan’s announcement.

“There are few among us who can claim that their ancestors were indigenous to the United States,” she said. “Welcoming immigrants and New Americans is a critical part of my strategy to grow Baltimore, and I hope that refugees from Syria will look to our city as a potential place to call home.

Democratic congressman Elijah E. Cummings also assessed the morality of Hogan’s request.

“Turning our backs on refugees fleeing the same senseless violence we witnessed in Paris is not just heartless, it is a betrayal of America’s values,” Cummings said in a statement. “Preserving the safety of Maryland’s residents and providing refuge for Syrians fleeing violence are not mutually exclusive; we can and must do both.”

Social media has been abuzz with mixed reactions to the governor’s words with many people taking to Twitter to express their support or disapproval.