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LA County Opens Door to Syrian Refugees

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Calling the Syrian refugee crisis "one of the worst humanitarian crises since World War II," the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to welcome and resettle refugees from the war-torn nation.

The vote comes after the FBI linked last week's massacre in San Bernardino to the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, and announced that shooters Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik had been radicalized for "quite some time" before killing 14 and injuring 21 at a social services center.

On Monday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump ignited a firestorm by suggesting that the United States should bar Muslims from entering the country.

"We need a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States while we figure out what the hell is going on," Trump said. "We are out of control."

At a meeting in downtown LA, supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl tabled the motion before passing it with the support of fellow Democrat Hilda Solis.

Republican supervisor Michael Antonovich refused to support the move, while the other Republican on the board, Don Knabe, abstained.

The motion reaffirms the county's commitment to federal immigration policies that welcome refugees, including those displaced by the civil war in Syria.

Over 4 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes because of ongoing conflict, religious persecution and terrorism, Ridley-Thomas's office said in a statement.

Close to 7.6 million have been displaced within Syria, which borders Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. A total of 12 million people have been displaced.

Seven out of 10 Syrian refugees are women and children, according to the U.S. State Department.

The five-member body also approved a vote to send President Barack Obama a letter expressing support for allowing more refugees to enter the United States and resettle over the next two years.

"Responding to one of the worst humanitarian crises since World War II, the Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to reaffirm Los Angeles County's commitment to hospitality while also ensuring the safety of its own residents," Ridley-Thomas' office said.

In their motion, Ridley-Thomas and Kuehl noted that the county has "a strong tradition of not tolerating hate crimes, racial antagonism, stereotypes, prejudice and bias, especially in the wake of fear."

"Refugees are subject to the strictest form of security screening of any class of traveler to the U.S. before they are allowed to enter, and are subject to extensive background, security and health checks," the motion said. "The process is slow and long and is considered the toughest way to legally enter the United States."

"We can protect public safety and honor our best American traditions at the same time."

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday voted 407-19 to bar travelers who have visited Iraq, Syria and other countries in past five years from entering the United States without visa.

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