UPDATE (Nov. 17, 6:15 p.m.): The table and the analysis in this article have been updated to reflect a statement by Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington, D.C.
UPDATE (Nov. 17, 5:15 p.m.): The table and the analysis in this article have been updated to reflect new announcements by five more governors.
UPDATE (Nov. 17, 2:45 p.m.): The table and the analysis in this article have been updated to reflect new announcements by 12 governors.
Governors of more than half of U.S. states have now said they won’t accept additional refugees from Syria after the attacks Friday in Paris, which French officials say were masterminded by a Belgian who fought for the Islamic State in Syria. As of Tuesday afternoon, governors in 12 states said they would welcome refugees as part of President Obama’s plan to accept 10,000 people in 2016 who are fleeing the Islamic State and Syria’s civil war.
That means most governors have weighed in, even though they can’t block refugees from entering the United States (though they could complicate settlement within their states’ borders).
There is one stark, obvious difference between these two groups of states: the party that controls the statehouse. Just one of the 30 governors who oppose taking in more refugees is a Democrat: Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. All 12 who said their states will continue welcoming refugees are Democrats, as is Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington, D.C.1
|STATE||ACCEPTING REFUGEES FROM SYRIA||REFUGEES FROM SYRIA ACCEPTED IN FY 2014||NAME||PARTY||REPUBLICAN TWO-PARTY VOTE SHARE|
Little differentiates the two groups of states in terms of their Syria-born population,2 their prior acceptance of refugees from all countries in fiscal year 2014 (between Oct. 1, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2014)3 or their acceptance of refugees from Syria during that period.4 The overall number of refugees to the U.S. from Syria last fiscal year, though, was tiny: Just 124 settled in 21 of 42 states whose governors have taken a stand — and none at all settled in 21 of the states or in Washington, D.C. Just eight more settled in the rest of the U.S. in 2014.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was one of the first governors to call for a halt to refugees from Syria. “Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration,” Snyder said in a statement Sunday announcing his position on refugees. “But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents.”
Obama defended his plan to welcome more refugees from Syria at a news conference in Turkey on Monday. “The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism; they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife,” Obama said.
CLARIFICATION: The data on acceptance of refugees from Syria is from fiscal year 2014 — between Oct. 1, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2014. It is not from calendar year 2014.
CORRECTION (Nov. 17, 4:30 p.m.): A table in an earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the party and position of Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, as well as giving an incorrect figure for the Republican Party’s vote share in Beshear’s most recent election. Beshear is a Democrat, not a Republican, and he has said the state would accept refugees from Syria; he has not refused to accept them. And the Republican vote share in his most recent election was 39 percent, not 55 percent. The table also misidentified the party of Alaska Gov. Bill Walker; he is an independent, not a Republican. The table has been corrected.