In his address to French mayors on Wednesday, French President François Hollande said the country would welcome refugees despite concerns about terrorist threats in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Declaring that “France will remain a country of freedom," Hollande said he would honor his commitment to accept 30,000 refugees into the country.
"Some wish to link the terrorist threat to the influx of migrants," Hollande said. "Truth is, that link exists: The people are running from Iraq and Syria because they are attacked by the very same people who are attacking us today."
Hollande expressed gratitude to the French mayors welcoming refugees into their communes and offered government support in helping them create refugee sites. He made it clear that even as France "in all its sovereignty" would welcome the new arrivals, he would take measures to ensure "there is no risk for the country."
"We have duties towards the migrants but we also have to protect French people," Hollande said. "I know the concerns upheld by some and France must answer these."
Hollande said the country would carry out "necessary tests" before allowing refugees in, adding that the reform on asylum candidates would enable the government to refuse asylum status for anyone "whose presence on French soil is a threat."
"That is how we will guarantee the safety of French people," he said. "By increasing border controls while remaining true to our values."
Hollande's decision to publicly welcome refugees comes as U.S. governors in 27 states have said that they will implement measures to stop or oppose accepting more Syrian refugees, citing security concerns after the Paris attacks. Among them is Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who issued an executive order instructing agencies in his state to "utilize all lawful means" to stop Syrian refugees from entering the state. He was joined by a dozen-plus Republican governors as New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan became the first Democratic governor to oppose the resettlement of Syrian refugees.
President Barack Obama slammed the governors' decisions saying, "Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America."
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at email@example.com.
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