Waterford Township residents won't see any Syrian refugees moving in next door. At least that's what city leaders are saying.
In a unanimous vote (7-0), the Waterford Township board of trustees passed a resolution to opt out of the federal refugee resettlement program. Thirteen of the 29 Waterford residents who spoke at the meeting opposed the board's decision.
Gary Wall is the board of trustees’ supervisor. He says the decision has to do with the safety of the residents, not bias against Syrians.
“In light of what's happened in our country the last few years, not saying Syrians are terrorists, let's not read anything into this, just in light of what's happened, we need to be very, very cautious in everybody that we vet to let into our country,” Wall says.
Wall says he and the trustees, who are all members of the Republican Party, don’t trust the vetting process used by law enforcement agencies.
“The overall perception has been the vetting process is either not being followed or it's not working,” he says.
Wall says he would be happy to reverse his decision once the vetting process is proven to be adequate.
According to the U.S. State Department, more than 1,400 Syrian refugees have settled in Michigan in the five years since the civil war began in Syria. Violence escalated heavily in the country last year, which prompted the increase in refugees.
This past August, the U.S. accepted its 10,000th Syrian refugee since President Obama's initiative began last year, according to the White House.