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Terrorism, refugees, and political rhetoric

Each week Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, join us to take a look at Michigan politics. 

In the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, Gov. Rick Snyder called for a pause on efforts to admit Syrian refugees into the U.S. and Michigan. Snyder says while he eventually wants to allow Syrian refugees to settle in the state, he first wants the federal government to review their security protocols for assigning refugee status.

Sikkema says he thinks the governor's decision is a smart one:

...as long as this is just a temporary pause. Because he can use the opportunity to show that the screening process used here in the United States is very, very thorough and then he can, you know, use that to defend taking the pause off.

Demas says she thinks the governor's statement caught some people off guard, especially since he has been pro-immigration in the past:

We're not used to Rick Snyder leading the pack on something that has become a rather strident issue very quickly.

I asked Sikkema to respond to comments by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson about blocking all refugees and tourist of Middle Eastern descent. Sikkema reminds us that current rhetoric around Syrian refugees and what we were hearing a couple of months ago is vastly different:

...when pictures of a three year old Syrian boy who was a refugee drowned. His body was found on the beach. It just electrified public opinion around the world for more action to accept these Syrian refugees and now, two months later, obviously because of what happened in Paris, the sentiment has changed dramatically. But there are people that are engaging in overblown rhetoric and fear-mongering. There's no excuse for it.

Demas says she's not sure what this could mean for Snyder's pro-immigration stance down the road:

Governor Snyder has been very welcoming, especially for skilled immigrants to come into Michigan. I'm not sure if his hitting the pause button will cause some issues with that overall message or not.

Listen to our full conversation here:

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