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Markell Opens Arms to Syrian Refugees as Others Pause

Markell, center, speaks at the White House on Feb. 25, 2013 in Washington, D.C.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images File Photo)

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell announced on national TV Tuesday his state will continue to welcome Syrian refugees in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, even as fellow governors across the country call for a moratorium on their admission.  

The Democrat touted his position in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and in an op-ed on CNN.com , saying these “are families in desperate straits.” “The situation in Syria in particular demands that we take every precaution before admitting someone inside our borders,” he wrote. “But we must show empathy by taking into account their individual situations and ensuring they are treated humanely.”  

Millions of refugees have fled their homes in war-torn Syria since 2011 . President Barack Obama previously planned to resettle 10,000 over the next year.  

But following the massive terror attacks in Paris over the weekend where at least 129 died, many governors and legislators — mostly Republicans — have called for Obama to rethink the resettlement strategy.  

Delaware is one of at least nine states to openly welcome the idea of refugees, despite an avalanche of largely Republican governors opposing. According to a count by Vox , 25 governors have said they would bar admission of Syrian refugees to their states and 15 governors said they still support resettlement in their states. The Republican leaders in the House and Senate have called for a “pause” on any Syrian refugees.  

According to various media reports, Delaware joins Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut and Vermont. Kentucky's current governor, Democrat Steven L. Beshear, would welcome refugees, but Gov.-elect Matt Bevin, a Republican elected this month, opposes it.  

Markell compared the Syrian crisis to 1939, when German Jews aboard a ship headed to Florida were turned away by the U.S. because of strict quotas. They returned to captivity and some died in the Holocaust.  

"The sheer numbers of refugees are much greater, and the solutions more challenging," Markell wrote. "But they are attempting to leave dire situations at home — sometimes akin to ethnic cleansing — in hope of a better life."  

Markell wrote that if the Obama Administration decides to place Syrian refugees in Delaware, the state will work with the federal government, while expecting it to "provide or pay for services these individuals may need."  

"The calls for states to reject them not only runs counter to our values, but also our law, which gives the federal government authority to place refugees and does not provide states the right to refuse," Markell wrote.