A family of seven Syrian refugees is expected to be relocated to Paterson on Monday, weeks after Gov. Chris Christie told President Obama that the state wouldn't accept any more Syrian refugees.
Church World Services, the group that is organizing the relocation effort, said Monday that the refugees would likely arrive in New Jersey sometime late in the afternoon. The group wouldn’t give their exact arrival time or say the airport that they’d be flying into out of fear for their safety.
There is concern for the family’s security given the recent political climate in the wake of the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attacks. The seven refugees’ arrival comes about two weeks after Gov. Christie wrote a letter to President Obama telling him that he was ordering state agencies not to assist the federal government in resettling any Syrian refugees because of terrorism concerns following the attacks in Paris.
In a statement Monday, a spokeswoman for the governor said that the federal government has failed to consult New Jersey about the refugees and has shared no security or background information. She said the governor will continue to oppose resettling refugees in New Jersey until national and state security fears are discussed.
“Rather than address concerns expressed by governors of both parties and the director of the FBI, the federal government has chosen instead to persist with its plan to increase the number of new refugees at a previously unattainable rate,” the spokeswoman said in the statement.
Paterson Mayor Jose Torres said Monday that he believes Christie’s views are politically motivated and that he’s only making this an issue because of his presidential ambitions.
In a radio interview earlier this month, Christie said that he wouldn’t allow orphaned infants to be resettled in his state.
Christie is just one of a long list of governors across the U.S. to take the position in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, which have stoked new fears about the potential risk caused by the flood of migrants trying to escape from Syria's brutal civil war.
Experts said states don't have the authority to stop refugees and New Jersey state agencies don't play a large role in resettling refugees, except for those that might need medical or financial assistance. New Jersey has accepted 75 Syrian refugees so far this year, according to data from the Refugee Processing Center.
Millions of refugees have fled Syria and Iraq because of ongoing crises in the two countries. More than 600,000 refugees and other migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia have entered Europe through Greece this year, many after making the short sea crossing from Turkey. Most of them continue on a long trek through the Balkans toward the promised lands of central and northern Europe, according to The Associated Press.
President Obama has said that the U.S. will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees a year — that’s out of about 70,000 refugees the U.S. accepts annually from around the world.