SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Amid ongoing tensions in Israel and Gaza, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said Utah would be open to having conversations about receiving Palestinian refugees, should the United States open its doors.
Israel has launched attacks against the Gaza Strip this week in retaliation to the devastating attacks from the terrorist group Hamas, according to reporting from the Associated Press. Many Palestinians were told to take refuge in the southern portion of the country, but have become stuck at closed borders.
During his monthly press conference with the media, Cox said there haven’t been any conversations with the Biden Administration yet about taking in refugees from Gaza or Israel.
“Obviously, we care deeply about refugees in this state. We have a history of taking care of refugees,” said Cox. “We will have those conversations if and when the administration makes a decision if they’re going to be allowing refugees into the country.”
Cox explained that if the situation arises, Utah would work closely with the Department of Justice and Homeland Security to vet Palestinian refugees through an “extreme process,” also condemning the attacks on Israel by Hamas. Cox said the state would be very careful about who is allowed to find refuge and would make sure that those who are against Israel and the Jewish people aren’t coming into the country.
“We want peace,” said Cox. “We want Palestinians to feel at home in Utah. As I’ve said before, any efforts to harm or vandalize, to threaten our Jewish citizens and our Israelis that are here in Utah will be met with swift Justice and the fullest extent of the law. I would say the exact same thing toward our Palestinians. They are our neighbors. They are Utahns. We love them and we are grateful they are here and we extend those same protections to you as well.”
As of Thursday, Oct. 19, the Biden Administration has not made a decision to welcome refugees to the United States. On Wednesday, President Biden announced the U.S. would be sending $100 million in humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.
Cox said he is remaining hopeful that neighboring countries in the region, such as Egypt, will open their doors and make room for refugees.