GREENSBORO, N.C. — The recent terror attacks in Paris have sparked debate about whether the United States should continue helping refugees from Syria.
Now, a state representative is asking the same question about the “Every Campus a Refuge” campaign at Guilford College.
The goal of the program is to temporarily house one Syrian refugee family on campus during their processing and resettlement period.
“For those 90 days, they would be our family. The community would be all hands on deck involved in assisting the family, in learning and growing from the experience,” said Diya Abdo, an associate professor at Guilford College.
However, North Carolina Representative John Blust is concerned about how the campaign will impact the rest of the community.
“I understand their tradition of wanting to help people, but this to me is a security matter,” said Blust.
Blust says he does not believe the United States government can guarantee every Syrian refugee is coming to our country for the right reasons.
Blust hopes Guilford College will stop accepting refugees from Syria until the federal government proves they can properly vet these individuals.
“My position is there’s just too much risk to the safety of the community. The chance of a horrific incident happening will be greatly enhanced if we allow people to come from Syria and relocate here in this community – let alone North Carolina,” said Blust.
However, members of the Guilford College community disagree.
“We can choose to respond differently to what happened in Paris and what happened in Lebanon. We can choose to see those truly heinous crimes as an illustration and example of what Syrians have to go through every day of their lives. Tenfold, that’s what happens to Syrians,” said Abdo.
Todd Clark, vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Guilford College, made the following statement about refugee resettlement Tuesday:
“Given our core values and longstanding history of responding to humanitarian need, Guilford College enthusiastically supports the ideals of the Every Campus a Refuge initiative led by Diya Abdo, one of our esteemed faculty members.
“When our borders are open to refugees, Guilford College is ready to support them in partnership with our well-established service agencies in the Greensboro region. We will, of course, abide by any and all legal limitations and/or restrictions pertaining to refugee resettlement.
“Our commitment to serving Syrian refugees continues unabated. We will work with local agencies to serve refugees currently residing in Greensboro and learn as much as possible in preparation for eventually providing temporary housing for a refugee family from Syria on our campus.”