Michigan Senate panel tables Syrian refugee resolution

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof tabled Tuesday a controversial resolution urging Gov. Rick Snyder to maintain a “pause” on plans to expand the the acceptance of Syrian refugees in Michigan.

The resolution met resistance in the Government Operations Committee, where Democratic Sen. Morris Hood of Detroit accused sponsoring Republican Sen. Patrick Colbeck of Canton Township of racism for singling out refugees from a single nation.

“This resolution is an insult to America, it’s an insult to our heritage and it’s an insult to what America is made of,” Hood said.

In his testimony, Colbeck criticized President Barack Obama’s decision to take in an additional 10,000 refugees from Syria, which is mired in a civil war, and questioned federal safeguards designed to ensure refugees do not have links to terrorist groups.

“This is specifically focused on the fact that ISIS has a center of gravity in Syria that is undeniable, so for you to go in and play the race card, I find it offensive and an insult,” Colbeck told Hood.

The resolution is non-binding, meaning it would not require action by Snyder or the federal government. Instead, Colbeck said it could influence the policy debate in the nation’s Capitol.

But the measure does not appear to be going anywhere in the Senate, where Meekhof adjourned Tuesday’s committee hearing after testimony from a handful of supporters and several critics.

“I don’t have any plans to take it up (again) at this point,” said Meekhof, R-West Olive.