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Backlash Over Gov. Snyder's Reversal on Syrian Refugees

Gov. Rick Snyder's decision to stop accepting Syrian refugees in Michigan is being met with some criticism. Credit: Office of Gov. Snyder.
Gov. Rick Snyder's decision to stop accepting Syrian refugees in Michigan is being met with some criticism. Credit: Office of Gov. Snyder.
November 17, 2015

LANSING, Mich. – Governor Rick Snyder is receiving some backlash following his decision to suspend efforts to accept Syrian refugees into Michigan.

In the wake of Friday's attacks in Paris, Snyder said he is suspending efforts to encourage resettlement in Michigan, citing safety concerns. State Representative Stephanie Chang, a Detroit Democrat, called it "a move backward on positive momentum" to create a welcoming state.

Hugh Madden with Progress Michigan calls it a knee-jerk response.

"It has the look of being a reaction to what happened," he says. "Those types of fearful reactions are exactly what the intention is of those who did the violence in Paris."

Meanwhile, Congressman Mike Bishop and state Representative Tim Kelly, both Republicans, are among those commending the governor's decision. More than a dozen other Republican governors announced similar plans. Some 130 people were killed in the Paris attacks, and investigators said a Syrian passport was found at the scene of one attack.

Madden explains that refugees undergo extensive security processing by the Department of Homeland Security before entering the U.S. He adds they are often fleeing violence, and turning them away essentially puts them into the same category as terrorists.

"It goes against our values, ultimately," he says. "This is what America is about, showing other citizens of the world that we can be a place to go for refuge. To put out statements like this reeks of political opportunism."

On Monday, the governor said he would not stop the 20 Syrian refugees slated to arrive in Michigan, or recent arrivals. President Obama has said his administration will continue its efforts to resettle an estimated 10,000 Syrian refugees.

According to U.S. Census data, nearly 10,000 Syrian-Americans live in Michigan.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI