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La. sheriff vows to fight Syrian refugee relocation in his parish

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GONZALES - Sheriff Jeff Wiley said in a Facebook post on the agency's social media account Wednesday, he does not want Syrian refugees making a home in Ascension Parish.

"I am going on record as opposing any relocation of these Syrian refugees into Ascension parish until such time that I am made aware of who these 'new residents' are, where they will reside and to what extent this administration has gone to investigate all who come to this parish," he wrote in the post. Wiley argued that more should be done to inform local agencies, such as sheriffs, about any relocation operations.

Catholic Charities in Baton Rouge and New Orleans have assisted in relocating 14 individuals from Syria. Thousands are flocking to the United States, seeking refuge from civil war in the Middle East. After it was reported that the one refugee the Baton Rouge arm of Catholic Charities assisted had moved out of the state, Catholic Charities said it began receiving death threats.

Wiley, though, is worried about what he believes could be threatening operations organized by refugees.

"I have followed the Syrian horror story for months now and have seen the news videos and read the stories of atrocities on innocent Christians (the majority of the victims) and Muslims that defy belief. Indescribable carnage, beheadings, burnings, rapings (sic), kidnappings, mass killings... all in the twisted perversion of Allah," he wrote. "I do not trust this administration’s position and clearly do not trust the process," he said of the president's plan about refugees and the fight against ISIS, a terror group.

Click HERE to read the entire message on the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office Facebook page.

As of this post, the message has been “liked” – a way of showing support of something written on a social media page – by more than 1,000 users. More than 700 different users shared the message to their followers, too.

Most of the nearly 300 comments supported the message from the sheriff.  

“Thanks,” user Lynn B. posted. She continued, “We are quite fortunate to have you as our leader.”

Others, though, questioned the stance.

“One of the proudest traditions of the United States has been to welcome the stranger,” user Ranji B. wrote on the thread. “Through the U.S. resettlement program, we have provided a safe harbor to those fleeing violence and oppression, and an opportunity to make a new life in a country that does not tolerate, but embraces, diversity.”

When contacted by WBRZ about the post Wednesday afternoon, the sheriff said he did not wish to talk about it on television.

"The Sherriff should be concerned, and I recommend he contact Col. Edmonson who, after looking into the process, appeared satisfied refugees are properly screened," David Aguillard with Catholic Charities said in a statement.  "Both the Sherriff and Col. Edmonson have valid complaints regarding the lack of transparency on the part of the Federal government.  If federal agencies had been more proactive in reviewing with local law enforcement the complex, multi-agency and multi-year refugee security clearance process... fears and rumors may not have gotten out of hand."

Tuesday, the State Police discussed the situation involving refugees and the death threats.

Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz


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