The Scoop

Senator LaValle Comes Out Against Welcoming Syrian Refugees in New York

New York State Senator Kenneth LaValle is weighing in on the Syrian refugee crisis. The Port Jefferson Republican, whose district encompasses the East End, sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo this week conveying his belief that New York should not admit refugees.

“I am writing to you today regarding the placement of Syrian refugees,” the letter dated November 17 reads. “While New York has always welcomed people to our shores, I believe that the safety of welfare of American citizens must remain our primary concern.”

The letter continues, “At this time I do not believe a sufficient vetting process is in place, and allowing these refugees to settle in our State could put New Yorkers in jeopardy. I come to this policy position with a heavy heart in light of the recent attacks in Paris. Because New York remains a top terrorist target, I am committed to doing everything possible to protect those I represent.”

On Tuesday at the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership, Cuomo said during a Q&A that it is up to the federal government.

“We have to protect Americans and not lose our soul as America in the process,” Cuomo said. “The day America says, ‘Close the gates, build the wall,’ then I say, ‘Take down the Statue of Liberty, because you’ve gone to another place.'”

To governors who say they will keep out refugees, Cuomo said, “Where does it say in the state constitution that you can refuse a person placed by the federal government?”

Cuomo acknowledged concerns about screening refugees, but he did not cast doubt on the federal government’s ability to conduct effective and exhaustive screenings.

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