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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Feb. 29, 2024

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Rally at Capitol offers opposing views on Syrian refugees

Washington State Patrol troopers separate the 2 groups


OLYMPIA — Hundreds of protesters and counter-protesters on opposite sides of the Syrian refugee resettlement issue gathered Friday in front of the state Capitol.

Gov. Jay Inslee said this week that the state would welcome Syrian refugees if the federal government determines that any of the 10,000 people that President Barack Obama’s administration has pledged to resettle over the next year will head to Washington state. The Democratic governor has criticized other governors who have threatened to stop accepting refugees following last week’s terror attacks in Paris.

A group carrying signs that read “Vets before Refugees” and “Why Put Us in Danger” were met by others carrying signs welcoming refugees and chanting: “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here.”

A line of Washington State Patrol troopers separated the two groups, who tried to shout over each other.

The protest comes days after 14 Senate Republicans sent a letter to Inslee, asking him to ensure that Syrian refugees are properly vetted before the state agrees to accept them.

Their letter said the state should pause potential resettlement efforts until more is known about the federal vetting process.

In a letter sent to the senators Friday, Inslee noted that governors lack the authority to grant or deny entry for refugees.

He wrote that while the federal government must do everything in its power to protect the country’s security, “I do not agree with the premise, unfortunately espoused by you and too many elected officials from other states, that our nation and our state should cease to welcome refugees fleeing oppression and conflict in other nations.”