Silence overcasts debate of future of Syrian refugees in Nebraska

Silence overcasts debate of future of Syrian refugees in Nebraska

Najm Jabbar- It’s been over four months since the last time Nebraska officials and agencies discussed the Syrian refugees issue Nebraska.

The discussion ended after a heated debate between some of Nebraska’s resettlement groups and Governor Pete Ricketts’ administration about whether or not Nebraska should accept Syrian refugees.

According to the United Nation Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are almost 4.2 million Syrian refugees who fled their country since the violence erupted in the beginning of 2011. Most of them are currently living in neighboring countries, while 10 percent of them decided to to go to Europe.

In 2015, president Obama said that the U.S. would accept up to 10,000 Syrian refugees. Following the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris in November last year, investigations revealed that one of the attackers was of Syrian nationality. Less than a week after the attack, 29 U.S. governors, including Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts, signed a petition asking the Obama administration to halt all Syrian refugee resettlement to their states.

Ricketts then informed all of Nebraska’s resettlement agencies that he opposes efforts to help Syrian refugees and that he wants them to stop welcoming them in Nebraska.

Nebraska’s biggest resettlement agency, Lutheran Family Services, said that they would honor Gov Ricketts request. The Agency had previously made a pledge that they are able to resettle up to 100 Syrian refugees in Nebraska in 2016.

“We said that we could resettle up to 100 Syrian refugees in Nebraska before Gov. Ricketts made his request to the agency,” said Fa’iz Rab, Director of Public Relations at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska. “But there is no guarantee that we will be receiving that number in 2016,”

According to an article in the Omaha World Herald, over 1,700 Syrian refugees made it to the U.S. in 2015, none of them was placed in Nebraska.

Syrian refugees will also now have to go through a special screening process upon arriving in the U.S.

“Making sure that we are not importing terrorism into the country is needed,” said Abla Hasan, Assistant Professor at UNL, and who originally from Syria. “But totally suspending the idea of receiving refugees is another thing,” Hasan added. “I truly believe that security serviced in the U.S. can handle these kinds of threats.”

Lutheran Family Services and other Nebraska resettlement agencies are now waiting on the federal government to resettle Syrian Refugees in Nebraska.

The Syrian refugees are often chosen based on their medical status and other factors like age and geographic origin.

Najm Jabbar
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