NORTHVILLE (WWJ/AP) – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is asking the Obama administration for a “full review” of security clearances for refugees who could be placed in Michigan.

Snyder’s office released a letter that was sent Monday to Secretary of State John Kerry and the head of Homeland Security after the attacks in Paris and Beirut. The governor says he’s “unwavering” in welcoming refugees to Michigan but adds that his first priority is keeping people safe.

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“I wrote a letter … saying, again, we want to be a welcoming place, that’s part of being America, but asking for a review of practices and procedures following the recent incidents,” Snyder told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill.

At an event in Northville, Snyder told reporters that he wants to ensure that terrorists are not part of the refugee process. On Sunday, a day earlier, the governor said the state is postponing efforts to accept refugees.

“Let’s make sure we understand that refugees coming here, people coming here, want to build a better life — and we want to help people build a better life. There are terrorists out there in the world though and we want to make sure they are not a part of that process,” he said. “We have new information, new incidents — isn’t it common sense you just pause and say, let’s make sure we’re looking at what happened in Paris, what happened in Lebanon and can we learn from that?”

Some people are criticizing Snyder. State Rep. Stephanie Chang, a Detroit Democrat, says the governor is “moving backward.”

Snyder said that while he is proud of the state’s history of immigration, its “first priority is protecting the safety of our residents.”

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“There are Middle Eastern people in need and we’ve been very proactive about saying ‘How can we be helpful as Americans and Michiganders to support them,'” he said. “We should be proud we have the largest Middle Eastern community in North America right here in Michigan. And so I want to be supportive, but we need to do that in the context of safety.”

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama, whose administration recently pledged to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees, argued Monday that the United States needs to allow them because many are fleeing terrorism.

The Homeland Security Department says refugees face the highest level of security screening of anybody entering the U.S.

According to government statistics, the U.S. has taken about 2,150 Syrians since Oct. 1, 2011 — most in the last year.

Refugees are generally invited to move to the United States after being referred to a State Department Resettlement Support Center by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In some cases they can be referred by a U.S. embassy or non-governmental agency.

In other cases, potential refugees who are close relatives of people granted asylum in the U.S. or other refugees already in the country can apply directly with the U.S. government. The average wait time for a refugee to be cleared to enter the U.S. is about two years, but often longer for people from Syria and elsewhere.

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