WSJ: Utah Adopts Welcoming Stance toward Refugees

Gov. Gary Herbert and other Utah leaders say they’re determined to keep doors open to refugees from Muslim countries, despite the possibility that Islamic terrorists could be hiding among those claiming refugee status.

Reports the Wall Street Journal:

Amid concerns over potential terrorists infiltrating the U.S., Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah has repeatedly pledged to keep the welcome sign hanging for refugees while most of his Republican counterparts want a review or pause in resettlement.


After the San Bernardino, Calif., and Paris attacks, Mr. Herbert met with national-security officials to better understand the refugee vetting process. Utah police, he said, have begun working directly with the state’s refugee communities to nurture ties with them and provide an “extra layer” of protection for Utah residents. He remains determined to keep doors open to refugees from Muslim countries.


“We are a compassionate people in Utah because we understand religious persecution,” said the governor in an interview, referring to the state’s history as the center of the Mormon religion. “We ought to keep out terrorists without keeping out people of a religious group.”


About two-thirds of Utah’s three million residents are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church organized in 1830 in New York state. Many have ancestors who were driven out of several states, where they were regarded as a threat, before settling in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.


Religious freedom is “embedded deeply in Mormon DNA,” said Patrick Mason, an American religion scholar at Claremont Graduate University in California.