President Obama’s pledge to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees this coming year was no surprise. The U.S. resettles more refugees than all other nations combined — nearly 3 million since 1975.
Many American communities have a history of welcoming displaced people from other nations. Some are stepping up now to ask for Syrian refugees to join their communities.
Mayors of cities laying out the welcome mat explained their decision in similar terms. “This speaks to our deepest values as Americans,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
It’s “the right thing to do,” added St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. St. Louis has long offered refuge to those who need it. In the 1970s, that meant Vietnamese. In the 1990s, Bosnians. Today, Syrians.
Cities and states with established Syrian and Arab-American communities may emerge as leading destinations.
“A lot of people … told us Michigan has a lot of Arabs and is a good area to go to,” said refugee Mahmoud Karaz. “It’s a little bit easier for us.”
A spokesman for Refugee Services of Texas in an interview told the reporter that his state’s strong economy is one reason Syrians might come there. Another is a growing Syrian community “developing in Dallas right now that is going to benefit the Syrian refugees who come later. They’ll have a neighbor they can go to and talk in the same language and have that common bond.”
Slay summed up his city’s response to the latest refugee crisis. “We are set up to handle these,” he said. “This effort has the city government’s full support.”