ALLENTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — They are Egyptian, Jordanian, Iraqi – but mostly Syrian, and just under 200 arrived to the Syrian Arab American Charity Association in Allentown to receive food, supplies and medical care.
“No one comes here to make problems… they come here for a better life,” Syrian-born, Allentown resident Mohamad Salloum told Eyewitness News.
By here, Mohamad means America, but also Lehigh County where the need for resettlement assistance is increasing, hence – this monthly event.
The event also gave the community the opportunity to meet some of Allentown’s newest refugee families. They did not want to be on camera. Eyewitness News is told that could be due to the language barrier, or even out of fear that speaking out could put family still back in Syria or elsewhere at risk.
“They are so determined to succeed and to learn. And they are also so very confused,” volunteer Fern Mann said.
Accepting displaced Syrians has now become the source of national debate after French officials say a suicide bomber gained access to Paris by posing as a refugee.
“I can’t imagine how they must feel… how they must feel having to flee their own home and then get rejected and get caught in the middle,” Mann stated.
“I’m a father of two children, I put all four into college. Do I really want someone to come in and hurt my children? No,” explained Syrian native and Lehigh Valley resident Samir Georges.
Samir Georges’ stance seems almost unexpected, when you consider that he himself fled to the United States from Syria years ago.
“We don’t want to move it from one place to the other. If we want to eliminate anything that is bad for any community we should eliminate it completely… not move it around and drag it here,” Georges said.
He promotes thorough checks of all entering refugees, with a focus on allowing families over single young adults.
But much unlike their home countries, inside of this organization there is no separation based on religion. Just a community of Arab people who together have become American.