Echoing the stance of several Republican governors, Matt Bevin on Monday said he opposes the resettling of Syrian refugees in Kentucky.
“My primary responsibility as governor of Kentucky will be to protect the citizens of the commonwealth,” said Bevin, who will become Kentucky’s governor on Dec. 8.
“This is why I am joining with other governors across the country in opposing the resettlement of Syrian nationals until we can better determine the full extent of any risks to our citizens.”
In 2015, 92 Syrians were relocated to Kentucky, according to the Refugee Processing Center. Refugees have flooded out of Syrian in recent years as the country struggles through a civil war.
The governors say allowing the refugees into their states would make residents vulnerable to attacks. Still, the AP reports that it’s unclear whether the governors have the authority to block the Syrian refugees from settling in their states.
Bevin’s stance contrasts with outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear, who on Monday said Kentucky won’t close its doors to refugees.
“Kentucky will be working with the rest of the United States in following the federal immigration laws,” Beshear said. “In terms of the impact of this violence on refugees, obviously, these are women and children and people who are in desperate need, and if America needs to help out, we will help out.”
Beshear also said the U.S. needs to be careful to screen refugees to make sure they are truly looking for safe haven.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has also weighed in on the refugee issue. Paul, who is also seeking the Republican presidential nomination, said on Monday that he plans to file legislation that would halt refugee visa from people fleeing states with high risks of terrorism.