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Maine Withdraws from Federal Refugee Program
November 4, 2016
For Immediate Release: Monday, October 17, 2016
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531
In letter to Pres. Obama, Governor writes he has ‘lost confidence’ in feds’ management of program
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage on Friday sent a letter to President Barack Obama informing him that Maine will no longer be participating in the federal refugee resettlement program. The Governor also notified the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, as required by federal law.
“I have lost confidence in the federal government’s ability to safely and responsibly run the refugee program and no longer want the State of Maine associated with that shortcoming,” wrote Gov. LePage in his letter. “The federal government has proven to be an unwilling partner with states in ensuring that refugee resettlement does not unduly put American lives at risk,” he continued.
Maine will be joining Texas, Kansas, and New Jersey in severing ties with the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. States have voiced their concerns that the federal government cannot adequately screen refugees, many of whom are now coming to the United States from nations where terrorism is rampant. Gov. LePage was one of 31 governors to sign a letter last November requesting unsuccessfully that the federal government cease resettlement of refugees from Syria until adequate vetting procedures can be established.
In a recent conference call with state officials, federal officials from the Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Health & Human Services announced their goal of increasing the number of refugees they bring into the United States in the upcoming federal fiscal year. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has told Congress that the federal government cannot conduct thorough background checks on all refugees coming into the country.
Gov. LePage in his letter to Pres. Obama cited the case of Adnan Fazeli, the refugee who settled in Freeport, Maine and left to die fighting for ISIS as an example of the kind of danger invited by the current reckless refugee program.
“I sincerely hope that the federal government will re-evaluate its current refugee policy—both the quantity and nation of origin of refugees it resettles and the vetting process they are subjected to—in order to best protect the safety and interests of the American people,” wrote Gov. LePage, who added that he has directed Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services to work with their federal counterparts to implement Maine’s transition out of the program.