Utah re-evaluates policy allowing Syrian refugees into the Beehive State

Posted at 8:27 PM, Nov 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-16 22:27:42-05

SALT LAKE CITY – In the wake of terror attacks in Paris, some U.S. governors are saying they will not allow Syrian refugees into their state.

Utah isn’t changing course, but is re-evaluating security protocols.

This comes as the state welcomed new U.S. citizens Monday morning. Inside the state Capitol rotunda, 116 people representing 43 countries pledged allegiance to their new country, the United States of America.

“The life there in Iraq, there’s no life. Here you see freedom,” said new U.S. citizen, Marwyh Ashuvtari.

Joy filled their eyes as they held up the key to their new life – official papers declaring them a United States citizen.

“I just want to go to school, and travel and follow my dad’s footsteps and have businesses,” said

Alejandra Bravo, who migrated from Chile.

Rep. Norm Thurston hosted the naturalization ceremony. He applauded Utah’s history of helping refugees resettle in the Beehive state.

“Most Utahns come from somewhere else. We are an immigrant people,” Thurston said.

But thousands of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria for America may not be welcome.

Due to the Paris terror attacks, governors from more than a dozen states have moved to suspend or restrict refugee resettlement in places like Alabama, Florida, Texas, Michigan, and Massachusetts.

So far, that’s not the case in Utah.

Gov. Gary Herbert’s Spokesman Jon Cox issued the following statement:

Gov. Herbert joins with those who mourn the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France. In the wake of these attacks, the governor will aggressively pursue a course of action that provides for the safety and security of Utahns. The governor has directed the Utah Department of Public Safety to immediately reevaluate the security checks currently used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security as part of Utah’s refugee program. The highest duty of a governor is to protect public safety. Working together with our congressional delegation, the governor will diligently assess these security protocols, and if warranted, implement a change in state policy.

“Utahns are well known for our compassion for those who are fleeing the violence in their homeland, and we will work to do all we can to ease their suffering without compromising public safety.”

Rep. Chris Stewart is calling for an end to Syrian refugees in the United States. He tweeted that President Obama’s plan to take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees should stop until there’s an adequate plan in place to vet them.

Nic Dunn, spokesman for Department of Workforce Services said there are a dozen Syrian refugees that have resettled in Utah.

“Here in Utah we can help them be educated, we can help them feel successful,” said Dunn.

Dunn estimates 100 to 150 refugees from Syria will make their way to Utah over the next year, but that number could change depending on what direction the governor takes.

For now, it’s about celebrating the refugees who’ve made it and now call Utah their home.

“It’s such an educated state and also very polite and willing to help,” said Dianna Morato, who migrated from Mexico.