Refugees seeking safety come to start a new in the Star City
ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - More than a dozen U.S. governors are now threatening to block Syrian refugees from coming into their states.
That's because, investigators believe one of the suspects in Friday's attacks posed as a Syrian refugee -- entering Europe with thousands of immigrants looking to escape the violence in Syria. President Obama has said the U.S. will accept up to 10,000 Syrian migrants and it's possible a handful of them could find their new home in Roanoke.
Governor's McAuliffe's office sent a statement that said McAuliffe and his public safety team are in constant communication with federal authorities about all refugee resettlements, including those from Syria. It also said, the governor has asked his public safety team to ensure that every proper precaution is taken to keep Virginians safe.
Members of several Roanoke-based organizations who help refugees about this growing controversy are speaking up.
"Folks that live here, no matter where they come from, what their religion or ethnic background, we all want to be safe,' said Executive Director of Local Colors Beth Lutjen. "And, when anything threatens that it's scary to all of us."
Lutjen said the people she works with from all over the globe all seek one thing, safety.
"Refugees are fleeing violence and persecution in their homeland, so a lot of times there's more or maybe there's been some sort of religious or ethnic persecution," said Alison Hammond, from Commonwealth Catholic Charities.
Since the attack on Paris, some governors have threatened to deny Syrian refugees from entering their states.
The opposition comes after the Obama Administration announced that next year 10,000 Syrian refugees will come to the U.S. It's possible some could end up here in Roanoke.
"Roanoke has available housing, Roanoke has available jobs, and the people who make up Roanoke are good people," said Executive Director of Blue Ridge Literacy Russ Merritt.
"The City of Roanoke has made a commitment, they have joined the Welcoming America Initiative...it is officially a welcoming community," said Hammond.
Local charitable groups said on average 175 refugees settle in the city each year. Only a small percent of the population is from Syria. Lutjen adds from recent events it's important to remember to not judge others for being different.
"The answer happens when people get to know other people and respect other people," said Lutjen.
WSLS 10 also tried to reach out to several refugee families, but no one was available to talk Monday.
Governor McAuliffe further said refuge undergo months of security screening before they start anew.
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