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Baker: Mass. Open To Role On Refugees, But Wants Clear Expectations

Gov. Charlie Baker reiterated his stance on Thursday that Massachusetts would be open to a discussion about accepting refugees from Syria as the White House announced that the United States would join with European nations and accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.

Baker, speaking to reporters just minutes before the White House announced its plan, said he would defer to the federal government, but is not opposed to engaging with the U.S. State Department about ways Massachusetts could be a partner.

The issue of accepting refugees became a hot-button topic last year during his race for governor when former Gov. Deval Patrick offered up Massachusetts as a location to place up to 1,000 children who had crossed the border from countries like Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape violent conditions. Baker supported that effort, though no children were ultimately placed en masse in Massachusetts.

"They would certainly be in the lead position on this one," Baker said, referring to the federal government. "I don't plan to or would ever glean to make foreign policy for the United States of America out of the governor's office."

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced Thursday afternoon that the United States would accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year, which starts on Oct. 1

"What I did say yesterday is we would be open, and the mayor of Boston basically said the same thing, we'd be open to a conversation with the feds if the feds were to choose to go in that direction, but we would want to know what the game plan was, what the expectations were, how we would anticipate paying for whatever it is they would expect supporters to do," Baker said Thursday. "But my view on this is the United States is part of the global community. This is clearly a global crisis, and we should do as a nation what I would call, sort of, our fair share."

Baker said that "to the best of my knowledge" no one from the State Department or other government agency had reached out to Massachusetts to gauge support or interest in partnering to accept refugees.

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