ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday that he's asking federal authorities to stop additional settlements of Syrian refugees in Maryland until the U.S. government can provide assurances that they pose no threat to public safety.
The Republican governor said in a statement that his decision was made after careful consideration, following Friday's attacks in Paris.
"As governor of Maryland, the safety and security of Marylanders remains my first priority," Hogan said.
The governor's words came a day after he said he would be making "a very reasoned and careful decision" on the issue. He had been asked about his position at a Monday news conference during which he told reporters he is in remission from cancer. Hogan said Monday that the state had been in contact with President Barack Obama's administration and that an internal group in his own administration "has been sitting down looking at the options."
A number of Republican governors have announced plans to try to keep out Syrian refugees, but experts say their authority to do so may be limited.
Maryland Democrats criticized the governor's position.
"Turning our backs on refugees fleeing the same senseless violence we witnessed in Paris is not just heartless, it is a betrayal of America's values," said Rep. Elijah Cummings. "Preserving the safety of Maryland's residents and providing refuge for Syrians fleeing violence are not mutually exclusive; we can and must do both."
Maryland has had 31 Syrian refugees come to the state since Jan. 1, according to the U.S. State Department's Refugee Processing Center. The U.S. has admitted about 2,500 Syrians since the civil war broke out in the country in the spring of 2011. The Obama administration wants to admit about 10,000 more this year.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told a congressional panel Tuesday that the United States has a robust screening process in place for those considered for immigration to the United States, a process she said Europe has not been able to set up.