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Hickenlooper Says Governors Blocking Syrian Refugees Is 'Against The Law'

By Tom Mustin

DENVER (CBS4) - The White House plan to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. is getting a strong reaction in Colorado, and on Tuesday Gov. John Hickenlooper talked to CBS4's Tom Mustin about the issue.

The governor says he supports the president's plan, but any real refugee policy is still years away.

"It's a two or three year process, so there's lots of time to analyze it," Hickenlooper said.

John Hickenlooper
Gov. John Hickenlooper (credit: CBS)

On Monday authorities confirmed one of the suspects in the Paris attacks entered Europe as a refugee. Since then, more than half of the U.S. governors have vowed to ban refugees from entering their state -- a move Hickenlooper says is out of their jurisdiction.

"Governors don't have the right to restrict people from coming into their state. They just can't. I'm not a lawyer but everyone I know tells me that's against the law," Hickenlooper said.

RELATED: Refugees In Colorado Say Screening Is Rigorous

"So these governors that say they'll block the refugees from coming don't have that power?" asked Mustin.

"I don't think so," Hickenlooper replied. "I took an oath to uphold the laws of the United States of America."

Scott Tipton
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (credit: CBS)

Colorado Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton has introduced a bill to block any funding to bring refugees the United States. Tipton says he has sympathy for the refugees, but without any real vetting process, bringing them to the U.S. is a major safety risk.

"As we saw coming out of Paris, it only takes one individual with a passport from Syria -- this one was forged -- but came in as a refugee, to be able to do great harm to innocent victims," said Tipton.

Hickenlooper says the government will have the final say, and he agrees safety is the key.

"What we should be asking is, how do we make sure, how do we guarantee as much as possible, the safety of Coloradans?" he said.

An online petition on has been started that asks Coloradans to oppose allowing Syrian refugees into the state. So far the campaign has more than 29,000 signatures.

Tom Mustin is CBS4's Weekend Anchor. He has been with CBS4 since 2002, and is always looking for great story ideas. Follow Tom on Twitter @TomCBS4.

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