Local News

Syrians in Triangle worry about relatives amid refugee backlash

Posted November 18, 2015

— The sympathies afforded to Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war in their country have given way to suspicion since French authorities said a refugee might have taken part in last week's terrorist attacks in Paris.

Gov. Pat McCrory and dozens of other state and national officials have in recent days asked that resettlement of refugees in the U.S. halt until the background screening process the refugees go through is upgraded to ensure possible terrorists aren't allowed into the country.

Some Syrians in the Triangle said Wednesday that they worry about their relatives and whether they’ll be able to find safe haven.

"They are being pushed away from their homeland, leaving their home, and on top of that, from one attack, they're being backlashed," Kamel Alachraf said. "They're being pushed away from everywhere, and they're the ones that need our help the most."

Alachraf, 21, who grew up in Syria, moved to North Carolina four years ago. Because he was born in the U.S., he holds dual citizenship and has petitioned to obtain a visa for his father to join him in the U.S.. His younger sisters are already in the country, and his mother has been granted a visa for health reasons.

"They want just a normal human being life just like anybody else wants over here," he said, noting his parents live in an apartment in Damascus and rely on money he sends to them because the war destroyed their business.

As with refugees, however, getting his parents to the U.S. requires layer upon layer of security screenings.

"Background checks have to be taken care of, health examinations, all that kind of security checks until they can get approved to be able to get on American soil," he said.

Mahir Havta’s family isn't so lucky. One brother was forced to walk to Germany and another to Lebanon, while a third brother died two months ago in a bombing before he could escape Syria.

"People die every day," Havta said. "People are hungry. We hear a lot of situations (where) people eat the grass."

Both men said they worry the sudden backlash against Syrian migrants will jeopardize their families' safety, and they are disturbed by the perception that Syrian refugees are linked to terrorism.


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  • B.c. Jimmy Nov 19, 2015
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    If you identify yourself as a Syrian, you should be in Syria. If you want to be in America, identify yourself as an American first.

  • El Conquistador Nov 19, 2015
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    It's a lot cheaper to to relocate refugees else where such as Africa as they've done so in the past. This is just an effort by the administration to try to make Republicans look bad.

  • Mike Hill Nov 19, 2015
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    This is why citizens need to be engaged. If you do not hold your government accountable, you have consequences like you see in Syria. if we do not hold Obama accountable for placing executive actions over the constitution, then the lazy citizen has no right to complain when America becomes uninhabitable.

  • Tom Laurence Nov 19, 2015
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    Syrian natives here legally are welcomed. And the State Needs to continue its current stance on NOT allowing any Syrian Refugees here, and in the US for that matter, until they are cleared by a very extensive screening and background. Those who disagree - need to view the 11pm news story last night where the 5 or 6 Syrian Criminals leaving Syria with illegal passports, with the intention of coming to the US. Still want to welcome any and all with welcome arms - NOT!

  • Tandy Dawgy Nov 19, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    Nope. Nice try though.

  • B.c. Jimmy Nov 19, 2015
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    Syrians should be in Syria. The headline says it all...

  • Bryan Jeffries Nov 19, 2015
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    As those poor people should. There's a hive mind mentality that is very xenophobic and uneducated on a lot of important subjects. They make ad hominem attacks on them and the people in favor of them seeking refuge.