November 17, 2015

Baker's approach to refugees backed

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg backed Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday morning, saying that he supports the governor's cautious approach to accepting Syrian refugees and that the media ran with the wrong part of Baker's comments on the matter.

"I think that the governor's principle message was actually not about whether we should hit pause or not, I think his principle message was, 'we need to make sure that we're doing everything here in Massachusetts to make sure that our people feel safe and that we're doing everything to keep them safe,'" Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, said on Boston Herald Radio. "It was the exuberance of certain individuals to highlight the, sort of, the footnote and turn it into the main story."

On Monday, Baker said he "would have to be very cautious" about accepting Syrian refugees in Massachusetts until the federal government tells him "a lot more" about its plan for screening refugees who enter the country.

"No, I'm not interested in accepting refugees from Syria," Baker told reporters. "I would need to know a lot more than I know right now before I would agree to do anything."

In the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, Baker became one of at least two dozen governors, according to the Associated Press, to pronounce their reluctance or opposition to accepting people seeking asylum from the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

"I think they put the emphasis on the wrong syllable," Rosenberg said, stressing the wrong syllable in both "emphasis" and "syllable" for effect. "I think he was going through a thought process and as he was speaking it was starting to evolve and I think that people focused on the wrong part of the message."

Rosenberg said Monday's leadership meeting with himself, Baker and Speaker Robert DeLeo began and ended on the topic of Syrian refugees. He said he has no doubt whatsoever that Baker is doing everything he can to keep Massachusetts safe, and is comfortable with Baker's approach.

"He said we got to make sure that if the federal government is going to place people in Massachusetts and allow them to come to Massachusetts they are thoroughly vetted," the Senate president said. "I don't think there is anyone who disagrees with that. ... I'm all over that, I'm totally in favor of making sure that happens."

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