Should refugees from Syria be allowed to come to America?

A Sacramento family from Syria explains the extensive screening process they underwent to immigrate to the U.S., and why people like them are fleeing their home country (Nov. 17, 2015)

SACRAMENTO - Mohammad Dawarah and his wife Rukaia Alturky have found a new life Sacramento.

Through interpreter Basim Elkarra, executive director of the council on American-Islamic relations, Mohammad describes their feeling toward their new home, far from war-torn Syria.

"They felt very welcome. They love this country. They feel very safe here," Elkarra quoted Mohammad.

The family waited two years as they were checked out by the United Nations and U.S. agencies before the could finally come to the United States. They have been in the United States for almost a year and a half.

"Refugees that come get vetted. The go through intensive security checks and then they (are) allowed to come," Elkarra quoted Mohammad.

The family was one of fifteen that were allowed to come to Sacramento after fleeing Syria's civil war. An American flag sits above the family's television in their living room.

"These are families that fled the oppression, fled the devastation, the killing, the murders. And so these are people who were afraid for their children and fled that environment," Rujaia said, as she sat on her couch in the family's modest apartment off Fulton Avenue.

U.C. Davis law professor Karima Bennoune said families allowed in to the United States are put through an extensive background check. She said the one Paris attacker with a Syrian passport was almost certainly not a refugee, but from Europe like the other terrorists.

"Only one of the suspected perpetrators that we now know of was carrying this allegedly fake Syrian passport and all of them may well have been sort of home-grown," Bennoune said. "We really have to step up and show generosity and courage and leadership while, indeed, taking the security issue seriously."

The Dawarah family said they will be forever grateful for their chance at a new life.

"(We) live in safety and freedom and (we) will never forget that," Mohammad Dawarah said.


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