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WUNC reports from Greensboro about Guilford County and surrounding area.

Local Groups Urge State Leaders: Do Not Turn Your Backs On Syrian Refugees

Several local service and faith organizations hosted a multicultural Thanksgiving Dinner to welcome immigrants and refugees.
Reema Khrais

Local service and faith organizations are urging state leaders to not turn their backs on Syrian refugees.

Responding to a national backlash against Syrian refugees, faith leaders and several groups gathered in Greensboro Monday night for a multicultural Thanksgiving dinner to welcome local refugees and immigrants.

“The anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric that we are too often hearing has rightfully concerned us for the safety of innocent, hard-working people trying to live peacefully within our community,” said Stephanie Adams, Greensboro director of Church World Service Refugee and Immigration Program.

Wasif Qureshi, president of the Islamic Center of Greensboro, added that it’s dangerous to conflate the Syrian refugee crisis with the menace of terrorism.

“For how can a few hell-bent terrorists speak for 1.5 billion Muslims?” he said.

Local resettlement agencies argue that Syrian refugees go through an extensive vetting process that lasts 18-24 months.

Many leaders, including Congressman David Price, have described it as the most thorough refugee vetting process in the world. The U.S. has admitted fewer than 1,900 Syrian refugees since 2012, while Germany has welcomed about 60,000 this year.

Since the attacks in Paris and Beirut, Governor Pat McCrory and other leaders across the nation have been vocal about their desire to stop Syrian refugees from entering the country.

“There’s a lot of anxiety out there, and there are concerns coming from my public safety officials, in which we do not know who was entering our state,” McCrory said on the Diane Rehm show last week.

A bill passed by the U.S. House last week would limit Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the country by requiring extra security measures.

U.S. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the legislation.

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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