Jay Nixon on Syrian Refugees: It's the Federal Government's Problem

Nov 17, 2015 at 10:45 am
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. - Danny Wicentowski
Danny Wicentowski
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, the governors of more than two dozen states declared Monday that they'd prefer if their states stopped accepting Syrian refugees. Despite the fact that governors don't actually have the power to block particular refugee groups, the widespread political posturing has motivated some governors and state officials to respond to the not-so-veiled xenophobia of their colleagues.

But what of governor Jay Nixon? Missouri's babbler-in-chief released a statement Monday evening that, in classic Nixon fashion, managed to stretch two full sentences into remarkably little substance.

"The safety of Missourians is my highest priority, and the terrorists who were involved in planning and perpetrating the attacks in Paris must be caught and brought to justice," Nixon said in the statement. "The screening process for refugees is the responsibility of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and I call on our federal partners to implement the strongest possible safeguards to protect our state and nation.”

So, it appears that Nixon feels strongly that the Syrian refugee issue isn't something for him to decide. Fair enough.

But the antiseptic press release feels particularly weak compared to the declaration by the Washington governor Jay Inslee, who took a moral position in stating: "'We do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism."

Back in Missouri, St. Louis mayor Francis Slay, himself a descendant of Lebanese immigrants, tweeted that the Paris attacks have motivated him to increase efforts to help Syrians find a home in St. Louis. 

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at [email protected]