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Maine Gov.: I'm not letting any more refugees into state

Republican Gov. Paul LePage speaks a campaign rally with support from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, in Portland, Maine.

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

PORTLAND -- Maine Governor Paul LePage says he’s making big changes to how Maine participates in the federal refugee resettlement program, CBS affiliate WGME reports

Friday afternoon, when the governor was in the WGME studio, he said the state would stop helping resettle refugees here in Maine.

He’s sent a letter to the president, ending the state’s participation in the program.

It’s a controversial move, but he says he’s just lost confidence in the federal government’s ability to safely and responsibly run the refugee program.

In the letter, he goes on to say he no longer wants Maine associated with that shortcoming.

He cites an example of a refugee living in Freeport, who went back to Syria and died fighting for ISIS.

He says the state has also found welfare fraud especially prevalent within the refugee community, but during our interview, he stressed safety, and concerns the program puts American lives at risk.

“The president of the United States is bringing in immigrants from Syria without vetting them,” LePage said. “He says they’re vetted; how do you vet someone you don’t have records on? I just sent him a letter today we’re pulling out of the refugee program.”

Texas, Kansas and New Jersey have also cut ties with the fed’s refugee resettlement program.

While the state can’t block refugees from entering, it can refuse to help with the process, which is what appears to be happening here.

A spokesperson for Catholic Charities of Maine said they were disappointed in the decision.

“We have had a good working relationship with the State over many years on the refugee resettlement program and we are disappointed in this decision. And we are disappointed the governor did not contact us directly,” says Judy Katzel, chief communications & development officer for Catholic Charities Maine.

The ACLU released a statement following the governor’s remarks: “Gov. LePage wants to make us afraid of people who are different from us by saying things that are not true. The truth is, refugees are the most heavily vetted people in this country. Thankfully, the governor does not have the power to stop refugees from coming to Maine. Maine is a welcoming state, and we will continue to welcome refugees with open arms.”