Local Debate After Governor’s Move to Deny Syrian Refugees

Some say they’re welcome here and it’s the American way.

"Most of them, if not all of them, are clearly tying to escape a horrific civil war in Syria. We have a long tradition in reaching out and supporting this kind of disaffected people," said one Chattanooga man.

And some say Governor Haslam is spot on in denying them refuge.

"We can’t determine who’s who at this point so for the safety of our country and people that we love, that’s a good start," said Caitlin Maddux of Chattanooga. "I mean we can’t just let people in and not have any clue who they are, what their intentions are here in America."

But Bridge Refugee Services in Chattanooga who processes refugees into Tennessee from all over the world says the process for Syrians to flee to America is much more involved than many may think.

"This group is probably the most scrutinized by Homeland Security of any people that ever travel to the United States," said Marina Peshterianu who is the interim executive director of Bridge Refugee Services. "The process is very lengthy. It’s very elaborate. It takes more than two years."

ISIS now controls land stretching from Syria to Iraq and one local Syrian American believes Haslam’s move could be dangerous.

"My personal opinion from someone that was raised in Syria and still has limited connections there, I think us stopping the refugees from coming here with the proper security measures is going to feed right into ISIS," said Syrian-American Abdou Kittih who lives in Murfreesboro. "You give those people nowhere to go in the world but to go back to ISIS territory, they’re going to be right in their lap and just prey on them."

Since the Paris attacks, the debate of allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S. has ignited a firestorm on social media and political circles.

But the home base of the terrorists is still unclear.

"While everybody is not guilty of being a terrorist or anything like that, you just can’t take any chances," Marci Esch of Chattanooga said.

The federal government, and not states, has the ultimate say on immigration policy though states can make the process slow and difficult through appeals and limiting funding.

Categories: Local News

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