Mid-South governors say they won’t accept Syrian refugees in their states

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — World Relief Memphis said its work is about compassion and helping the vulnerable. That includes people fleeing Syria because of the civil war there.

In a statement, the organization said the U.S. Refugee Resettlement System has not failed here and is a lifeline to those fleeing terrorism.

World Relief is urging local communities to continue welcoming refugees.

With last week's attacks on Paris, the Syrian refugee initiative now has citizens worried.

"I am very scared about it. Very scared,"  one person told WREG.

"After seeing what happened in Paris, it could very easily happen here," another said.

It's reported that some of the Paris bombers, linked to ISIS, may have gained entry to the country as Syrian refugees.

"We need to put this on hold right now, taking refugees from Syria," State Sen. Brian Kelsey of Memphis said.

He said it's time to give the refugee program a second look because we don't have enough records on who is crossing into the country.

"Our own FBI director has already stated that there are no records because Syrian refugees are coming from a war-torn country and records don't exist," Kelsey said. "That's a problem we have to be concerned about."

State Rep. Sheila Butt of Columbia sent a letter requesting Gov. Bill Haslam suspend all efforts to settle any Syrian refugees in Tennessee, through any agencies, until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security completes a full review of security clearances and procedures.

By late Monday afternoon, Haslam joined governors in Texas, Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi in asking for a halt to the program.

U.S.  Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee now wants the federal government to take action.

"Halt it immediately, and take some of the steps we are hearing the other European countries are going to take, tightening up their borders, tightening up their entry processes," Blackburn said.

World Relief Memphis told WREG it has taken in 186 refugees from around the world this fiscal year. It said less than 15 of those were Syrians.

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