CHARLESTON, W.Va. – House Government Organization Committee Chairman Gary Howell, R-Mineral, today urged Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to resist any effort to relocate Syrian refugees to West Virginia.
Howell’s request follows last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris. News reports indicate that at least one of the attackers may have entered Europe with a group of Syrian refugees.
“While West Virginia has a proud history of helping those in need, the first priority of state government must be the safety and protection of our citizens,” Howell said.
While the Tomblin administration has said the state has not been contacted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement regarding large-scale placements of Syrian refugees, Howell said that with more than half of states now saying they will not accept any refugees, federal plans could change.
Howell said he’s heard an outcry from constituents who are concerned about refugees traveling to the United States and West Virginia.
“After the horrific attacks in Paris, radical Islamic terrorist organizations like ISIS are looking for any and every opportunity to exploit our nation’s generosity and hospitality to carry out their attacks against the innocent,” he said. “The Obama administration believes we can adequately and safely vet these refugees – that is dead wrong. There is no terrorist database in Syria and no way to identify who’s who.”
Howell said the various gun-free zones across the state could make inviting targets to terrorists because they would know they would be the only people armed in that particular area, allowing them time to inflict maximum carnage.