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Gov. Rick Snyder: We Must Welcome Refugees—After Screening Them

Rick Snyder, governor of Michigan, attends the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., on April 27, 2015.
Bloomberg via Getty Images Rick Snyder, governor of Michigan, attends the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., on April 27, 2015.

Gov. Rick Snyder is beginning his second term as Michigan’s chief executive.

I’ve paused efforts to bring more refugees to Michigan until the U.S. reviews its security procedures

Throughout its history, Michigan has been a welcoming place for immigrants to come and build new lives. That spirit is reflected across our state, but especially in the vibrant Middle Eastern community that has congregated in and around Detroit.

In a state with many strengths, our greatest is the diverse and proud people who call Michigan home. I remain a vocal advocate for continuing to make Michigan a home for immigrants, including refugees who are escaping violence and oppression in all corners of the world. I am unwavering in that determination.

In recent months the world viewed the heartbreaking images of families fleeing their homes across the Middle East and seeking refuge in safer places in Europe and beyond. I let it be known that Michigan can be a place where thousands can experience safety and freedom—and a growing community where they will be embraced and comforted by a support network. It’s the right thing for us to do as Michiganders, and the right thing for us to do as Americans.

But the events of recent weeks, including the violence in Paris, Beirut and the skies over Egypt, remind us of the dangers our world faces from extremists who are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods of doing us harm.

My primary responsibility is to keep the people of Michigan safe.

That’s why I’ve asked to pause our efforts to bring more refugees to Michigan and requested the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to take a full review of the security clearances and procedures for all refugees who have the potential to be placed in Michigan.

I know that the background checks are an important component of a long and detailed process. I appreciate the work those departments have done to keep Americans safe.

But after brutal attacks such as we’ve seen around the world occur, it’s common sense to stop and take a closer look at what has happened, at the processes that are in place and then at what we can do moving forward to determine if there are ways we can strengthen our systems. My administration wants to cooperate fully with these two departments in that analysis.

These are proper steps that we should take. But we, as a nation, should resist looking at these attacks in the context of the overall debate about immigration in our country. America’s immigration system is broken, and I’ve called on our leaders in Washington, D.C. to fix it.

I’m proud to be one of the most immigration-friendly governors in the U.S.

I know of the economic impact immigrants already have had on Michigan through companies that are known around the world and employ thousands of people. I know that immigrants with training in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math today create jobs, making our economy stronger.

But I also know that thousands of international students graduate each year from Michigan’s world-class universities with skills needed to help Michigan communities and businesses grow and thrive. They want to stay here and our broken federal immigration policy tells them they must go. That’s bad policy, and it’s not the way our great nation was built.

Our state must be open to the people looking to rebuild shattered lives just as it should be open to those who come here to learn in our universities or those who come to build or invest in our state’s industries.

We must never confuse the people who look to us for safety and opportunity with those who wish to do us harm. I am simply asking for assurance that the federal process will know the difference.

Gov. Rick Snyder is beginning his second term as Michigan’s chief executive.

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