As the debate on whether to accept Syrian refugees rages, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says now is not the time for a new national identity.
“As Americans, we have always been a country of immigrants,” Nixon says. “We have always a place that welcomed people who had horrific things happen to them, whether it has been in Africa or Bosnia or now in Syria.”
He says he understands the concerns of Missourians who are reticent to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States.
“We all want to make sure that we are safe, and I’m very sensitive after seeing what occurred in Paris about the constant, consistent threat terrorism provides,” Nixon says.
But Nixon added that he doesn’t believe the relatively small percentage of Syrians who make it through the vetting process – roughly 2,100 of the 23,000 who’ve applied, according to numbers the White House shared with governors – pose any real threat.
“The vast majority of Syrian refugees who’ve come to America have been kids, have been moms, whose lives have been torn about by their houses being bombed and their fathers being killed,” he says.
Nixon urged Missourians and Missouri charities who work to resettle refugees to continue aiding Syrians.
Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.