Montgomery County officials pen letter on admission of Syrian refugees

WASHINGTON — Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland, are weighing in on how Syrian refugees ought to be treated by state and local governments.

In a letter to the federal office of Refugee Resettlement (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families), Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and the nine members of the Montgomery County Council have stated that the county is “a welcoming community to refugees from around the world, including those from Syria.”

The county’s letter comes after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan stated that Syrian refugees should not be admitted to Maryland without “appropriate assurances” that they pose no threat. Hogan’s statement appears on his Facebook page.

Hogan is among 30 governors who oppose admitting Syrian refugees. Under the U.S. Constitution, immigration and refugee status are regulated at the federal — not the state — level, but states do play a role in how grant moneys for settlement efforts are handled.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that 38 advocacy groups have appealed to Hogan to welcome Syrian refugees. Monday, protesters gathered in Annapolis to demonstrate against Hogan’s stance. And last week on Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson wrote to Hogan in an effort to allay his concerns about the vetting process for Syrian refugees.

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