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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

Northwest Politicians Take Sides Over Syrian Refugees

The Alhamdan family -- two parents and six children -- arrived recently in Seattle from Syria. They are joining a tiny community of 25 recent Syrian refugees.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones
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The Alhamdan family -- two parents and six children -- arrived recently in Seattle from Syria. They are joining a tiny community of 25 recent Syrian refugees.

The debate about Syrian refugees continues to gain force. And more Northwest politicians are taking sides, as KUOW’s Liz Jones reports.

TRANSCRIPT

In Washington state, Republican Chris Vance is running to unseat U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. And on Tuesday, Vance joined a chorus of governors who want to block Syrian refugees from coming to their states.

Vance: “The president needs to stop, slow down and reassure everyone that you can keep people safe while also providing humanitarian assistance to these refugees.”

It’s possible one of the Paris attackers posed as a Syrian refugee to enter Europe.

And Vance, along with half the governors in the country, worry something similar could happen in the U.S. That’s even though the U.S. heavily screens refugees before they come here, something Europe has struggled to do.

Inslee: “We’re afraid and fear is a very powerful force.”

That’s Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Inslee: “I just disagree with a number of my gubernatorial colleagues who’ve pushed the panic button. Instead of really evaluating what the screening process is, they’ve decided just to shut the gates and I just don’t think that’s consistent with what America is about and what my state is about.”

According to State Department officials, refugees receive the most stringent security process for anyone who comes into the U.S.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has said her state will continue to accept Syrian refugees.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter wants to block them.

But they may have little say in the matter. Federal officials decide which refugees are admitted to the U.S., and where they are resettled.  I’m Liz Jones, KUOW News. 

Year started with KUOW: 2006