In another missive by Gov. Robert Bentley aimed at federal officials in Washington, the governor accused the Obama administration of efforts to “circumvent” states on ongoing plans to relocate thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria on Wednesday.
“I continue to have great concerns with the refugee vetting process, particularly the lack of state involvement, oversight or knowledge,” Bentley said in a statement. “I cannot help but believe the intent appears to be an effort to circumvent states and our ability to adequately protect our people and ensure the safety of our citizens.”
Bentley joined several other primarily Republican governors in declaring their intent to refuse any incoming refugees should the federal government plan to relocate them within their borders.
Bentley said last month he “would not stand complicit” with any scheme to move migrants into Alabama, which he said “places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way.”
In a letter addressed to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Bentley excoriated the office for refusing to reply to earlier notes and for creating a “filter” through which governors had to go in order to speak with the administration.
“As governor, I take very seriously my responsibility to ensure the safety and security of Alabamians,” wrote Bentley. “The Refugee vetting process, in my opinion, in structured in such a way that excludes states from any oversight and severely limits the amount of information the states may have regarding refugees.”
The Obama administration has called their vetting process “the most robust screening process for any category of individuals seeking admission into the United States,” wherein candidates are subjected to the very highest levels of scrutiny.
“I must point out the missing element of state government involvement in that process,” Bentley intoned.
The federal government has said previously that governors are entitled to quarterly reports, but has indicated they will not process answers to individual inquiries from governors in most cases.
McDonough has offered to allow the National Governors’ Association as a go-between with the White House, but Bentley rejected that as a non-starter.
“I cannot accept that proposal as a workable solution,” Bentley wrote. “There should be no filter between the federal government and state governments, and especially between the President and Governors regarding an issue of such high importance as national security.
“As I expressed in my letter last week, Alabama has not received any refugee reports regarding any refugee of any national origin. I do not believe placing a filter such as NGA between the Administration and the Governor’s Office addresses this current problem, nor does it solve future concerns regarding the vetting process,” said Bentley.