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White House briefs governors on refugee screening

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DETROIT – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was one of the first to say it is time to stand down on allowing Syrian refugees into the country.

It's was a remarkable about-face from the usually pro-immigration governor. However, Snyder, like governors across the country, is worried about screening procedures to make sure Islamic terrorists don't get a free pass to come into the United States.

That's why the White House had a 90-minute conference call Tuesday night.

From the White House:

"The Administration officials reiterated what the President has made abundantly clear: that his top priority is the safety of the American people. That's why, even as the United States accepts more refugees—including Syrians—we do so only after they undergo the most rigorous screening and security vetting of any category of traveler to the United States"

The degree of confidence in that security vetting is the issue. Snyder's press secretary had this to say Tuesday night:

"Gov. Snyder said that one of the key things that would be most helpful is robust data and enhanced flow of information from federal to state authorities, and that Michigan stands ready to work with them on that process."

Here is the full readout of the White House call with governors:

Today, the White House hosted a call with a bipartisan group of 34 governors from across the country to provide information about existing refugee admissions policies and security screening measures. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough led the call and was joined by Alejandro Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; Simon Henshaw, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration; Mark Giuliano, Deputy Director of the FBI; and representatives from the National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The call lasted almost 90 minutes, including an extensive question and answer session among the governors and Administration officials. The officials briefed the governors on the rigorous screening and security vetting process that is required before a refugee is able to travel to the United States. Thirteen governors asked questions.

The Administration officials reiterated what the President has made abundantly clear: that his top priority is the safety of the American people. That's why, even as the United States accepts more refugees—including Syrians—we do so only after they undergo the most rigorous screening and security vetting of any category of traveler to the United States.

Several Governors expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to better understand the process and have their issues addressed directly by representatives of the agencies responsible for the refugee and screening programs. Others encouraged further communication to ensure that governors are able to better respond to questions from the public about the refugee screening and resettlement process.

Denis McDonough also committed to working with the National Governors Association to improve information sharing and maintain an ongoing dialogue.


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