After Paris Attacks, Mounting Fear of Refugees at Home

At least 30 states have declared their opposition to taking in Syrian refugees and some in the US are feeling the backlash.
6:52 | 11/19/15

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Transcript for After Paris Attacks, Mounting Fear of Refugees at Home
The horror in Paris has raised urgent and emotional questions about whether America should accept refugees from Syria. Some believe turning these people away simply makes sense saying they pose a terror threat. Others say that attitude is simply unamerican. For the tired masses fleeing the war in Syria, global sentiment seems to have changed swiftly and severely. Just months ago the world was aghast over images like this. A lifeless Syrian boy washed up on a beach in Turkey after he and his family tried to make it to Greece. His father inconsolable. "Everything is gone," he said. It led to an outpouring of empathy and interest. We followed the stories of tens of thousands of refugees crossing borders, searching for safety. This is the largest mass migration in history in Europe since world war ii. This is the front lines of it. While they were sometimes met business resistance, for the most part it seemed like the world wanted to help. But now, after Paris, that may be starting to change. One of the terrorists killed during Friday's attacks was found with a fake Syrian passport identifying him as a refugee. Stoking fears that Isis may be using the human tide flowing out of Syria as a way to camouflage its killers. In Europe we're now seeing anti-immigrant protests in the streets. Here at home governors from more than half the states now want to close the door to Syrian refugees. A shift that is troubling to refugees who have already resettled here. People like Mohammad Al halallah and his eight children. He tells us he fled Syria two years ago because of the indiscriminate killing, that nobody was safe. He says they were welcomed in this new community in Arizona and they felt safe here. But since the attacks in Paris, the governor of Arizona has said he doesn't want any more refugees from Syria. This father now says he is disappointed that the actions of a few terrorists have affected the lives of so many fleeing so much horror. He feels especially badly, he says, about the children who are, of course, blameless. And it turns out, according to the U.N. Human rights commission, more than 75% of Syrian refugees -- the people many states are trying to block -- are in fact women and children. People who come here are vulnerable people, widows, orphans, families who have lost everything and they're given a new chance here after very careful consideration by very well informed people right across the U.S. Government. Reporter: And today the mayor of New York City, bill de Blasio, making the case the children are the reason to keep the door open to those suffering. This is the cost of not bringing in people who are innocent victims of the humanitarian crisis. This child's death was on the front pages of newspapers all over the world. This image gripped the world, literally. Governor Christie specifically said he did not think it was appropriate for small children to be brought in. Is this what he wants to see happen to people? Is this what he wants to see happen to children? We don't accept that here in new York City. Reporter: And even after the attacks on his own country, the president of France seems to agree, saying he remains committed to taking in France's share of the refugees pouring into Europe. But Texas senator Ted Cruz and others think this kind of policy is simply too risky. He told my colleague Jon Karl he wants to ban all Syrian refugees who are muslims. No muslims, but allow the Christians in? That's your position? From middle eastern countries where Isis and lake have control of significant parts of those countries -- No muslims, only Christians? Is that your position? Jon, can you say islamic radical terrorist? I can say radical islamist terrorist no problem. You're saying no muslims, only Christians? Christians are different in the middle east. Reporter: President Obama calling that proposal unamerican. They've been playing on fear in order to try to score political points. In order to advance their campaigns. And it's irresponsible. And it's contrary to who we are. And it needs to stop. Because the world is watching. Reporter: Senator Cruz then firing back. I would encourage you, Mr. President, insult me to my face. Let's have a debate on Syrian refugees right now. Reporter: One governor isn't waiting for this debate to play out. The letter was addressed to me. Reporter: Carlene miller, a refugee court 98 Nate coordinator was about to place a family from Syria in Indiana when she was informed the governor blocked the program. The letter said the governor had directed them to cease services to refugees. Reporter: Miller says she had to act quickly to find the family another home. Tonight this family, starting a new life in Connecticut, where the governor met them with open arms. I have to say they were absolutely wonderful and charming folks. Reporter: But others are concerned that this anti-refugee sentiment is exactly what Isis wants. As Isis has written about extensively in their magazine, they seek to destroy this "Gray zone" of coexistence between muslims and western societies. Because we're starting to see the largest refugee exodus since world war ii, they definitely want to see this anti-muslim backlash in the west. They want to see this islamophobia in America and the republican presidential campaigns because it will show to muslims around the world that muslims are not welcome in the west. Reporter: Critics point to cases where the screening process in America has failed. In 2009, two men from Iraq with terrorist ties were resettled in Kentucky. They were then arrested in an FBI sting accused of supporting insurgents back in Iraq. After suspending the resettlement program for six months officials say they've tightened the security protocols. We have a much better process. And if there is any doubt at all about someone, if some aspect of their story, their biography that they give, can't be verified, they don't get in. Reporter: For this kind of perspective and reassurance may ultimately not carry the day. Because while the needs of the refugees may be great, so too is the fear. We should say we'll have the latest developments on the investigation into the attacks in Paris first thing in the morning on "Gma."

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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