His decision came days after the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people on Nov. 13. More than two dozen governors, mostly Republicans, have said they will not allow Syrian refugees into their states due to concerns that Islamic State terrorists could pose as displaced persons to enter the country.
The advocacy groups, which included civil rights, faith, labor, humanitarian, social justice, immigrant and refugee-resettlement organizations, said Maryland has a moral obligation to help the refugees.
“At a time when the world needs humanitarian leadership, calls for restricting the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Maryland only serve to stoke fear and hate and to jeopardize our moral leadership,” the letter said. “Syrian refugees are fleeing exactly the kind of terror that unfolded on the streets of Paris.”
Tuesday’s letter is the latest in a series of actions in recent days aimed at convincing Hogan to stop opposing resettlements in Maryland. Advocates also held demonstrations at the State House on Friday and Monday; nearly a dozen Christian and Jewish faith leaders delivered a petition to the governor on Monday urging him to reverse his position; and two recently-settled Syrian refugees from Baltimore invited him to meet with their families to see a “true picture of the Syrian people as peaceful.”
Additionally, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a joint letter on Friday assuring Hogan that the vetting process for Syrian refugees was “extraordinarily thorough and comprehensive” and that authorities review the applications “more carefully than any other type of traveler to the United States.”
Hogan said Monday that he would not change his mind.
“An overwhelming majority of Marylanders support my position,” he said at a Baltimore news conference. “Most people in the country support my position, as does a majority of Congress and the super-majority of all the states.”
Refugee-resettlement groups do not need permission from states to bring displaced persons into states. They generally work with city and county governments and nonprofit groups to find homes, social services and job opportunities for people who have received refugee status from the federal government after an extensive screening process that can last more than two years.
“We can welcome refugees while ensuring our own safety,” the advocacy groups said in their letter.
Also on Tuesday, more than 120 state legislators from 31 states issued an open letter to their constituents condemning efforts to block the refugees and pledging to work toward finding “policy solutions that will ensure security in our states, while we also foster communities who warmly welcome those families who are seeking refuge in the United States.”
Seven Maryland lawmakers, all of them Democrats, signed the letter: Dels. Angela Angel Prince George’s), Benjamin Brooks (Baltimore County), Shelly Hettleman (Baltimore County), Brook Lierman (Baltimore City), Eric Luedtke (Montgomery), David Moon (Montgomery) and Jimmy Tarlau (Prince George’s)..