In a letter to President Barack Obama, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal demanded information about the Syrian refugees entering his state via New Orleans.
The 2016 GOP presidential contender framed his demands in the context of the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday. He wrote:
Last week, the city of New Orleans began receiving its first wave of Syrian refugees. As with former immigration crises and federal relocation policy, Louisiana has been kept in the dark about those seeking refuge in the state. It is irresponsible and severely disconcerting to place individuals, who may have ties to ISIS, in a state without the state’s knowledge or involvement.
As Governor of Louisiana, I demand information about the Syrian refugees being placed in Louisiana in hopes that the night of horror in Paris is not duplicated here.
Jindal demanded information about whether “additional protections and screenings will be put in place,” particularly following the Paris attacks and the discovery “that some of those responsible…held Syrian passports.”
Additionally, Jindal demands to know the level of background screening conducted on the Syrian refugees, and whether “all Syrian refugees seeking relocation in the United States will now be cleared by the Terrorist Screening Center?”
Finally, Jindal expects to receive information about the level of monitoring of the refugees that will be conducted once they are placed in Louisiana.
“As Americans, we embolden freedom and opportunity to the rest of the world, but by opening up our borders and refusing to collaborate or share information with states, you are threatening that reality,” Jindal writes, telling the president “it would be prudent to pause the process of refugees coming to the United States. Authorities need to investigate what happened in Europe before this problem comes to the United States.”
According to local Fox affiliate WVUE, Martin Gutierrez, a spokesman from Catholic Charities – associated with the archdiocese of New Orleans – says his organization has served two refugee families already, but expects more.
“So it’s a matter of uniting the families, which is something that the church really promotes, obviously. Some of them don’t have relatives and we try to help them become integral parts of our communities,” Gutierrez said.
Former New Orleans FBI chief and anti-terrorism expert Jim Bernazzani was interviewed by WVUE on whether terrorists coming into the country with the Syrian refugees are a legitimate concern.
“If I was in charge of ISIL, logistically I’d take advantage of this situation and put my people in, into the United States,” Bernazzani said. “Now with that said, the FBI is on top of this big time with our Joint Terrorism Task Force and we have what’s called a Terrorist Screening Center that these individuals will be run through.”
He added, however, that not every refugee entering the United States would face the same level of scrutiny.
“It’s going to be the 18- to 45-year-old male for the most part,” he said. “It’s a percentage game… it’s a percentage game.”