Some Utah lawmakers have been criticizing Governor Gary Herbert for being willing to allow Syrian refugees who have passed security screenings to settle in the state. They have taken a more hard-line position due to fear of potential terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile, U.S. Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah says he has mixed feelings about the issue.
“Before we let any refugees into the United States they must be closely vetted to ensure that we know who they are, who they represent, and who is coming into this country,” says Hatch. “We need to be sure to do that.
“I think it’s irresponsible, particularly after Friday’s attacks, to reduce this issue to one of mere compassion. We need to be compassionate but we also need to be prudent, no question about it.”
He says Syrian refugees already go through a comprehensive vetting process that can take as long as three years.
State Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, says the governor has no choice, although protection of Utah people should be the top priority.
“I’m concerned about the human aspect of it,” Hillyard says. “But I’ll tell you I’ve had a number of people express some real concern to me about the fact that we’re having people come in and some who could be, and I should say probably are, people we don’t want in our country because of the terrorist acts they’ve done.
“It’s a quagmire but the governor has handled it about as well as he can.”
Hillyard says he expects the Department of Public Safety might be coming to the legislature to ask for money to tighten up the screening procedures.