(WJBK) - Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says he doesn't want any more Syrian refugees in his county. He says he plans to file a lawsuit to keep them out, although hundreds of refugees have already arrived.
"We have to vet them. What do you know about them? Do they have any criminal records? What about public health? Do they have TB? Do they have any kind of communicable disease?" he says he wants to know.
Patterson says he's exploring exactly how to suspend the practice of allowing refugees in until he's convinced the vetting process is thorough.
"I don't know that I can stop it. I don't know if I have the authority to stop it, but I do have the legal authority to go to federal court and force these federal agencies to do what the law says they do," he says. "You've got to consult with them, and whether you like them or not, they're entitled to know who's coming into their communities."
"We are greatly dismayed by the callous and reckless fear-mongering and anti-refugee sentiments that have recently been expressed in Oakland County," The Jewish Community Relations Council said in a statement.
Martin Manna, President of the Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce and the Chaldean Community Foundation, is an advocate for refugees but he adds he has a concern that Christians are now in the minority among current refugees are allowed into the U.S.
"Of the 10,500 Syrian refugees who came to the United States, only 55 are Christian. So that's alarming to us. That percentage should be 10 percent or more. And so we think there is some factors in place that are biased against the Christian community, the Chaldean-Assyrian-Syriac community coming from Syria. So, we've raised those concerns with members of Congress and with the administration that there is a bias in place," says Manna. "There isn't a bias against Muslims, as many people might think; the bias really has been against Christians being admitted that are from Syria."
Patterson says he's currently talking with county lawyers to determine a strategy that taps the brakes to slow down the refugee process.