Clarkston Mayor, Ted Terry, Welcoming Syrian Refugees
“Clarkston is ready to step up and do our part to welcome more Syrians, more Iraqis, more Afghanis to our City,” Terry told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on September 10, 2015.
“Our Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters from the Levant need our help. And I respectfully call on our state and federal leaders to answer the call,” Terry wrote.
Clarkston has historically taken in refugees and newcomers from a wide variety of nations, Terry told Atlanta Progressive News.
“Our city manager, state refugee coordinator, refugee settlement agency… we already meet on a regular basis anyway. It’s a great program, incredibly efficient,’ Terry said.
“The Europeans need to come over to Clarkston to see how to assimilate refugees in a modern society. The Governor should be proud. We have the highest refugee resettlements rates in the country. We are a City that used to be negative about refugees, now we have a Mayor that wants to help. Hopefully, there is a sigh of relief coming, from the State… nonprofits, International Relief committee, New American Pathways. Let’s work together instead of against each other,” Terry said.
“There are a couple hundred [Syrian] refugees in Georgia, 70,000 refugees in general [from other countries] every year arrive in the U.S.,” Terry said.
“Georgia could see a dozen Syrian refugees every two weeks, who buy commercial plane tickets, that they have to pay back; they are required to get a job, pay taxes, and they also receive housing assistance. These people are used to being cities, they speak English already, which is a huge benefit,” Terry told APN.
“Last week the Governor said locals in Clarkston didn’t want refugees. We passed the Welcoming Cities proclamation, part of the Welcoming America collaborative and we passed the Charter of Compassion, a four paragraph statement of principles interfaith ideas that all religions share. This passed unanimously,” Terry said.
According to SyrianRefugees.eu: “An estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011, taking refuge in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself.”
“According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 3 million have fled to Syria’s immediate neighbours Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. 6.5 million are internally displaced within Syria. Meanwhile, under 150,000 Syrians have declared asylum in the European Union, while member states have pledged to resettle a further 33,000 Syrians. The vast majority of these resettlement spots – 28,500 or 85% – are pledged by Germany,” the website states.
“The Syrian Civil War is an ongoing armed conflict taking place in Syria. The unrest began in the early spring of 2011 within the context of Arab Spring protests, with nationwide protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s government, whose forces responded with violent crackdowns. The conflict gradually morphed from prominent protests to an armed rebellion after months of military sieges,” Wikipedia states.
“The armed opposition consists of various groups that were formed during the course of the conflict, primarily the Free Syrian Army, which was the first to take up arms in 2011, and the Islamic Front, formed in 2013. In 2013, Hezbollah entered the war in support of the Syrian Army. In the east, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a jihadist militant group originating from Iraq, made rapid military gains in both Syria and Iraq, eventually conflicting with the other rebels,” Wikipedia states.
“By July 2014, ISIL controlled a third of Syria’s territory and most of its oil and gas production, thus establishing itself as the major opposition force,” Wikipedia states.
“This will make our community stronger, not weaker. We should lead with love and compassion… this is the bedrock of our communities, principles. Ultimately it’s up to the State, everything is going good in Clarkston. People like to say that refugees cause crime..that there is ethnic conflict. That’s not true. Clarkston has low rates of violent crime. Resettlement agencies are good at understanding ethnic conflict,” Terry said.
“When I did make my statement, there were an equal number of folks saying great job and equal number of people saying I’m ignorant and naive,” Terry said.
“All I can say to that is number one, if I lived in a part of Georgia that has no refugees, I would be ignorant by definition. I’ve been with these people, I’ve danced with them, I’ve ate with them. I have a unique perspective. The resettlement program from back to the 1940’s, is the greatest accomplishment of America. People can start their lives over. We’re going to use that soft power, that America is that beacon of freedom, in contrast to other parts of the world where freedom doesn’t exist. We can tell people how great we are or we can do the things that make us great,” Terry said.