Entering the United States as a refugee is like being born into a new society. You have to learn the practices of your new surroundings and find your space in the place. Thankfully, Texans welcome most new arrivals with open arms – unless they don’t, because you’re from Syria. Whether the feds or the courts are willing to acknowledge it, the message from Texas is that Syrians might pose a safety threat.
Mouaz Allababidi has been helping resettle refugees with the North Texas group Shaam Relief. The group has met most of the families who’ve arrived in North Texas. Many were excited at first to come to America, but now have some mixed feelings.
“Unfortunately, from where they’re coming from, they feel a lot much safer and they are trying to make this new home for themselves,” he says. The problem is they watch social media all the time and they do watch the news and lot of them are getting very, very concerned.”
Many refugees have family and friends they want to reunite with, but worry about being able to bring them over given the political climate of their resettlement like Gov. Abbott’s barring Syrians resettling in Texas.
“All these refugees come from a country that’s running a dictatorship and repressive countries,”Allababidi says. “When they hear stuff like that in the news, they are terrified, so they’re like, ‘We don’t want to talk to no media.’ They’re trying to just live and build their families.”
He says officials should listen to those who want to come over before deciding their fate, many of whom have escaped “unimaginable” circumstances.
“I would like to invite Governor Abbott to sit down with them and hear from them before he tries to sue them,” Allababidi says. “We need to embrace them just like we’ve embraced the Vietnamese and the Iraqis and all these other refugees who, as we’ve seen throughout the years, have proven to be such as asset to Texas, to the whole nation.”
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.