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Mark-Viverito: Opposition to letting in refugees 'appalling'

‘I think that what we’re seeing on behalf of these governors is really appalling and that we're much better than that as a country,’ New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said.Kevin C. Downs/for New York Daily News

‘I think that what we’re seeing on behalf of these governors is really appalling and that we’re much better than that as a country,’ New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said it’s “appalling” for a slew of governors to declare they don’t want Syrian refugees in their states in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.

“What we’re seeing now at the national level is a very ugly discourse,” said Mark-Viverito, who called into the Brian Lehrer show to weigh in on the refugee debate.

“I think that what we’re seeing on behalf of these governors is really appalling and that we’re much better than that as a country,” she said.

President Obama has announced plans to accept 10,000 Syrians into the United States by year’s end. Some 2,200 refugees have settled in the U.S. since 2009.

At least 28 governors have said they don’t want refugees in their states and some vowed to take steps to exclude them, though governors lack the legal authority to block entry into individual states. Gov. Cuomo has not yet commented.

“We know that we are built as a nation that has welcomed immigrants and those fleeing persecution, and that is what is happening in the case of these refugees,” Mark-Viverito said. “The language and the vitriol that we’re hearing does not represent our values … We’re decent people, and we need to stand for that.”

Opponents warn that would-be terrorists could get into the country amid the refugees.

Mark-Viverito said those fears are overblown, noting the tight screening policies in place in the U.S. are different from the mass migration taking place in Europe.

“The refugee process here in the United States is comprehensive. We definitely have procedures in place that screen those that are coming in aggressively. Obviously I would not say in any way that should be wavered or that should be suspended,” she told Lehrer.

“The way the process is being handled abroad is very different than the way the process would be handled here. It’s really about not turning our backs on this incredible human tragedy that is happening right before our eyes.”

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