By Lemor Abrams


SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Gov. Jerry Brown says California will not shut the door on refugees, while Sacramento County Sheriff and newly announced Congressional candidate Scott Jones says he doesn’t know the refugees already living in the region.

California has taken in 218 Syrian refugees this year, but in his announcement, Jones zeroed in on “25” Syrian refugees.

“I cannot vet the Syrian refugees that are reported to be here in Sacramento. I don’t even know who they are,” Jones said.

Later in the day, he was asked whether his knowledge of the number of refugees was because he hasn’t looked into it or because he thought they needed to be vetted.

“I think both. I don’t know who they are. Now that information may be available for the asking. I might ask for it. It’s about the vetting,” he said. “We are completely dependent upon the federal government to do that.”

He admitted to CBS13’s Sam Shane he didn’t know the exact number, and he was referencing a media report he ran across.

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But Jones’ statement has fired up the agencies that resettle refugees.

Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Basim Elkarra says he doubts from a security perspective that there is a risk, citing vetting by the military and the government.

Federal officials say the screening of refugees admitted to the United States is rigorous. Once the applicant is determined to be a refugee through the United Nations, they go through an intensive screening process with the Department of Homeland Security. That includes an interview, a medical evaluation, and additional interagency security screening. It takes 12 to 18 months, but for Syrian refugees, it can take longer because of security concerns.

Once in the United States, refugees are not tracked and are free to move from state to state.

Brown declared California will continue accepting Syrian refugees while nearly two-dozen states try to bar them.

Jones was quick to respond.

“I’m the one that’s charged with keeping 1.5 million people safe,” he said. “Jerry Brown is not. The president is not. This is the oath I swore, no one else.”

Many legal experts say states don’t have the legal authority to vet refugees in the first place.