Since the Paris attacks, many U.S. politicians have raised concerns that refugees from the war in Syria could in fact be terrorists. The House of Representatives has voted to add additional security protocols that would apply to Syrians entering the United States, but opponents say the vetting of refugees is already robust.
While the rhetoric continues, Church World Service, based in Jersey City, New Jersey, is busy helping. It has resettled 150 refugees from around the world since April.
“We actually have resettled families this week,” said Mahmoud Mahmoud, the group’s director. “We’re actually doing an airport pickup today and tomorrow. We’ve done one yesterday and the day before. Four different families, all this week.”
Three million men, women and children have fled Syria since 2011, many on foot. Some eventually land in refugee camps.
Hussam Alroustrom recently arrived in the U.S. with his family.
“Life was extremely difficult,” he said through an interpreter. “The government was going house to house doing searches. Random searches of people. There were people being raped. There were a lot of robberies and theft in people’s homes. And then after those security risks, missiles and shells dropped on people’s houses.”
Though critics have expressed doubts about letting Syrian refugees into the United States, Church World Service said the refugees are highly vetted.
“There are five intelligence agencies that work in tandem with one another to properly vet these refugees before they ever arrive to the United States,” Mahmoud said. “Refugees are the most vetted individuals that enter the United States.”
A CWS employee showed VOA a supply storage unit where furniture, clothing and children’s toys for incoming refugees were stored. Despite a recent uptick in donations, though, the group said it could always use more, since refugees often arrive with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.