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Refugees living in an abandoned warehouse near Saida, Lebanon. Photo: Anthony Gale via Flickr

Wolf, Kenney keep doors open to Syrian refugees

It's a stark contrast to what's happening in Texas and Louisiana.

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Governor Tom Wolf said Monday that he would keep Pennsylvania's doors open to Syrian refugees, and Philadelphia's Mayor-elect Jim Kenney quickly echoed the sentiment.

Wolf's commitment contrasts that of over half a dozen other state governors, who over the weekend come out against President Obama’s plans to relocate 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. The backlash against those fleeing civil war abroad comes on the heals of the deadly terror attacks in Paris last week, which left 129 dead. Investigators say that at least some of the alleged attackers entered France alongside large groups of refugees from Syria.

Jeffrey Sheridan, a spokesperson for the Wolf administration, explained the policy in a statement.

"We must not lose sight of the fact that families leaving Syria are trying to escape the same violence and unimaginable terror that took place in Paris and Beirut," Sheridan said. "To assist the settlement of families fleeing the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the federal government coordinates with local charitable organizations in Pennsylvania and other states. Pennsylvania will continue working with the federal government to ensure that all individuals have gone through the proper screening process."

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Kenney responded Monday afternoon with approval.

"Philadelphia has a long history of being a city of refuge for those in need — welcoming Quakers, Irish immigrants, Sudanese refugees and many others," Kenney said in a statement. "I applaud Governor Wolf's decision to work with the federal government to properly screen and resettle Syrian refugees in Pennsylvania. In keeping with our city's history, I look forward to working with him and welcoming refugees seeking a safe home to Philadelphia."

In Philadelphia, refugee location organizations told AL DÍA last month that preparations are already underway

There is some dispute over just how much a state governor can dictate national immigration policy. But governors from Texas and Louisiana both sent letters to the Obama administration stating that they would not house Syrian refugees.

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