NEW ORLEANS » Gov. Bobby Jindal has told the White House he wants to know how many Syrian refugees have been placed in Louisiana. The Republican said he wants that and other information "in hopes that the night of horror in Paris is not duplicated here."
Jindal released his letter Saturday, a day after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for attacks that killed 129 people and wounded 350 in Paris.
Fourteen Syrians have been resettled in Louisiana: one in Baton Rouge and the rest in New Orleans and suburban Kenner, the State Department told WWL-TV on Sunday.
A spokesman for President Barack Obama said Sunday that the administration is continuing with its plan to thoroughly vet and resettle up to 10,000 Syrian refuges in the United States in 2016. The State Department said they’ll be spread across the country.
Jindal said he wanted to know what level of background screening was made before Syrians entered the United States. "In light of the fact that some of those responsible for last night’s attacks held Syrian passports, what additional protections and screenings will be put in place?" he asked.
He also asked whether the Terrorist Screening Center will now check out all Syrian refugees seeking to enter this country and what monitoring will be done once such refugees are in Louisiana.
"As Americans, we embolden freedom and opportunity to the rest of the world, but by opening up our borders and refusing to collaborate or share information with states, you are threatening that reality," Jindal wrote. "Mr. President, in light of these attacks on Paris and reports that one of the attackers was a refugee from Syria, it would be prudent to pause the process of refugees coming to the United States."
Both candidates for governor, Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, said the Paris attacks are a reason to pause or stop such immigration.
"President Obama’s ?plan to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S. — just like his statement made a day before the Paris attacks that ISIS was ‘contained’ — is outrageous and irresponsible. That’s exactly how at least one, maybe more of the Paris terrorists got there," Vitter said in an emailed statement. "These Syrians have already started arriving in Louisiana. That needs to stop immediately."
Authorities said a Syrian passport found near one Paris attacker had stamps from three countries along a busy migrant corridor known for lax controls. However, it was not clear whether the document was real or forged. Officials on Sunday were still trying to identify people involved in the conspiracy. They said as many as three of the seven suicide bombers were French citizens.
Edwards, like Jindal, called for a pause rather than a halt.
"In light of the recent tragedy in Paris, it’s imperative for us to pause the influx of refugees flowing into our state without more information on the security measures in place," he wrote. "Gov. Jindal has requested additional information from the President on how the federal government is handling the refugees being sent to Louisiana, and I think the President has an obligation to provide answers before we move any further."