Wolf defends accepting Syrian refugees, screening process

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf is telling Pennsylvania lawmakers that he’s not backing down on his willingness to continue accepting Syrian refugees who are fleeing persecution and death, and says states don’t have the authority to refuse refugees admitted by the federal government.

Wolf, a Democrat, sent the two-page letter Tuesday evening to lawmakers after some Republicans urged Wolf to block refugees’ entry to Pennsylvania following the Paris terror attacks.

Wolf says the federal government has an extensive refugee screening process that takes an average of 12 to 16 months. The screening includes an in-person interview, health and biometric screening, and involvement from anti-terrorism agencies. He says he’s asked his administration to recommend ways to strengthen the process.

Wolf also joined a Tuesday evening conference call between President Barack Obama and governors.

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