MILWAUKEE -- There is a growing backlash against Syrian refugees after initial reports that one of the suspects in the Paris terror attacks Friday, November 13th had posed as a refugee to get into Europe. By Monday evening, 26 governors, including Governor Scott Walker had indicated they're against the plan to resettle Syrians escaping from war.
But an immigration lawyer tells FOX6 News governors don't have much say as to who gets to come in.
Teddy Chadwick says under the Refugee Act, only federal officials can decide whether someone is admitted into the country as a refugee -- but he says governors can throw a wrench into the process, and discourage those officials from assigning refugees to a particular state.
"I have my cousins -- they`re still there," Shamcy Alghazzy said.
Alghazzy moved here from Syria more than 20 years ago, but his connections to the war-torn country are still strong.
"My wife`s side still has her sister and her grandma and they are in different parts of Syria," Alghazzy said.
Following the reported connection between one of the attackers in Paris and a Syria passport, Wisconsin Republican leaders have called for a halt to the admission of Syrian refugees.
Governor Walker said this in a statement Monday:
In light of these horrific and tragic attacks, our first priority must be to protect our citizens. Along with governors across the country, I have deep concerns about the Obama Administration’s plan to accept 10,000 or more Syrian refugees, especially given that one of the Paris attackers was reportedly a Syrian refugee. In consultation with our Adjutant General, who also serves as my Homeland Security Advisor, it is clear that the influx of Syrian refugees poses a threat.
With this in mind, I am calling upon the President to immediately suspend the program pending a full review of its security and acceptance procedures. The State of Wisconsin will not accept new Syrian refugees.
There may be those who will try to take advantage of the generosity of our country and the ability to move freely within our borders through this federal resettlement program, and we must ensure we are doing all we can to safeguard the security of Americans.
Furthermore, I am opposed to recently introduced legislation encouraging the state to accept Syrian refugees in Wisconsin.
"No governor can say `no, we`re not going to admit them anymore,'" Chadwick said.
Chadwick says governors can act once a refugee tries to settle in a particular state.
"What governors could do would be to direct their agencies to not provide any sort of social services toward these individuals," Chadwick said.
At a vigil in Milwaukee to honor the victims of the terror attacks in Paris Monday, Mayor Barrett responded to Governor Walker's statement:
"I would hope that we, as a nation, could try to resolve this in a way that`s respectful of those people who are suffering and, at the same time, make sure we have a safe country here," Barrett said.
Alghazzy says if there are delays or restrictions, the biggest losers would be those trying to escape Syria.
"Because once those doors are closed, they have no choice but to stay where the killing is non-stop," Alghazzy said.
According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a total of three Syrian refugees were placed in Wisconsin between 2012 and 2014. Those are the three most recent years for which data is available by state.
In 2015, the country as a whole admitted more than 1,600 Syrian refugees.
In 2014, that overall number was 105.
CLICK HERE for refugee arrivals by country/state 2012-2014.
CLICK HERE for data available via the Refugee Processing Center (includes total admissions by country for each year, dating back to 2001).