Most Northeast Ohio reps vote to block refugees to U.S.

Syrian community disappointed in response

CLEVELAND - The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to pass a bill Thursday that suspends the Syrian and Iraqi refugee program in America.

Nearly all Northeast Ohio representatives, with the exception of Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, supported the bill that requires that the FBI runs rigorous background checks on refugees to ensure they are not a threat.

“Pause, make sure there is integrity in the system, make sure we can tell the American people that as these refugees come in, they do not pose a threat to the United States,” said Republican Rep. Jim Renacci.

Rep. Renacci added that since last week’s terror attacks in Paris, his office has received hundreds of calls and e-mails from constituents who are “concerned about their safety.”

For Dr. Khaled Issa, who is one of those constituents and moved to Westlake from Syria 30 years ago, the bill and the country’s recent response to refugees has been “extremely hurtful.”

“We should not collectively punish a group of people and discriminate against them for the fear of a few,” Dr. Issa.

He has returned to help in refugee camps in the Middle East since the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011 as part of a medical team. He said the compassion and support he saw across the country when a photo of a little Syrian refugee boy washed ashore a Turkish beach made headlines has since turned, and surprised him.

“Preventing people, especially the most vulnerable ones, it is not us. It is not American,” he said.

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