Local politicians, refugees sound off on the question of Syrian - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Local politicians, refugees sound off on the question of Syrian immigrants

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Murder, famine, rape and disease: They're the conditions chasing refugees out of war-torn countries.

The day before Thanksgiving, we heard from those just resettling to Louisville, who worry about Syrians still trying to escape.

The traditions of American Thanksgiving are a foreign concept to Faraji Lujendo. 

"This is my first Thanksgiving, and today, I'm very, very glad," Lujendo said.

Living 11 years in a Kenyan refugee camp, he says eating until you're full was never an option. 

"Sometimes the food is really little," he said.

The 17-year-old joined dozens of international refugees in the Catholic Charities gym on the day before the holiday.

"We want to make sure you feel supported and welcome," said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

But one country was noticeably absent. Lawmakers and Governors from more than 30 states now want to refuse Syrian refugees after learning one was involved in the Paris attacks. 

"Anybody coming from one of these countries that has a radical jihadist movement would not be able to immigrate, visit or study here," said U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate Rand Paul.

Kentucky Governor-Elect Matt Bevin is one of the latest to speak out against continued immigration of Syrian refugees, telling national media Wednesday he'd like to pause and use a measured approach. 

Louisville expects to take in 700 refugees in 2016, and despite the security concern, Mayor Fischer says he's not ready just to shut the door on Syria. 

"I reject that notion," Fischer said. "Obviously there's a very strong vetting process: up to two years for refugees, widows, orphans."

"I feel that we have a process that's stringent -- and if it can become more stringent, make it more stringent," Fischer said.

Ahmad Alsadi came to the Country five years ago, after fleeing terrorist killings in Iraq. He says refusing Syrians creates a dangerous precedent for all countries fighting an ISIS stronghold

"It's really wrong to generalize and demonize refugees for what one group of brutal savages did," he said.

As the national debate continues on where the line between security versus compassion falls, there are many here glad to be celebrated Thanksgiving in the United States.

"I'm thankful for freedom, yeah," said Lujendo.

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