Catholic Charities: Syrian refugees unlikely to settle in state

| December 1, 2015 | 4 Comments

The likelihood that Minnesota would receive an influx of Syrian refugees is low, said Catholic Charities experts who work with refugee resettlement, but that shouldn’t diminish Christians’ willingness to help and welcome Syrians, or overshadow the needs of refugees from other countries who arrive in Minnesota.

“Most of the refugees come because they have a family tie here,” said Laurie Ohmann, Catholic Charities’ vice president of client services and community partnerships. “Because there haven’t been many Syrians settled here, our role will likely be small.”

The charitable organization has been supporting refugee resettlement since the 1970s and resettles about 300 refugees annually.

Following revelations that the Nov. 13 attacks on Paris were carried out by Islamic State militants trained in Syria, many American leaders expressed concern about or resistance to allowing Syrian refugees into the United States, fearing it would provide a portal for terrorists.

Within a week of the attack, more than half of U.S. governors stated that Syrian refugees were not welcome in their states. Others, including Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, said they would not oppose the arrival of Syrian refugees. Meanwhile, an online petition to bar Syrian refugees from Minnesota garnered 21,500 signatures.

Pope Francis and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have consistently called for the U.S. government and international community to support Syrian refugees, both Christian and non-Christian. In September, President Barack Obama announced that 10,000 Syrians will be allowed to enter the U.S. next year.

In a Nov. 24 online forum for youth and young adults, Bishop Andrew Cozzens, auxiliary bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said Syrian refugees should be viewed “as people in need, not as terrorists.”

He said he favored appropriate screening measures, “but we have to remember that we have a responsibility to help refugees, and that many of them are Christians fleeing for their lives because they have been kicked out of their homes by Islamic extremists.”

He added: “We must open our hearts to these people who have lost their homes, and many have lost their homes because they share our faith and . . . refused to deny their faith.”

According to the USCCB, at least 4 million Syrians have fled their country due to civil war and the emergence of ISIS. Of them, 1,500 have entered the U.S. as refugees.

Since 1974, nine Syrian refugees — including one family of seven who arrived last year — have settled in Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Resources, none are scheduled to arrive in Minnesota.

Ohmann said she understands why people are fearful following the Paris attacks, but that “the notion that we can increase our security by limiting our interaction with people who are different than us” is unfounded.

“Refugees go through more screening than you or I do as a tourist,” she said.

Ohmann said Catholic Charities has received many calls from people who want to help Syrian refugees locally. There is a prevalent misconception that people can house refugees in their homes, said Katie Radloff, who works with refugees at Catholic Charities. Although that used to be possible, the resettlement program now relies on affordable housing.

However, Ohmann said, Catholics can help by supporting refugees who do settle in Minnesota, and suggested neighborhoods and parishes make a stronger commitment to welcoming people who have resettled near them. She noted that St. Timothy in Blaine organizes a cleaning supply drive each Christmas for refugees in Catholic Charities’ program, which works with refugees for their first 90 days in the state.

According to the Minnesota Department of Human Resources, about 2,400 refugees resettled in Minnesota last year through the U.S. Refugee Admissions program. Of them, more than 80 percent are refugees from Myanmar and Somalia.

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Category: Local News

  • laughing tyger

    HUMANE MIGRATION

    Muslims share religion, customs, mores, values and often language. It is more humane to send them to Muslim countries. Why is Europe on the brink and Americans wasting precious time & energy arguing over A NON ISSUE. There are PLENTY of Muslim countries AND plenty of money. THERE ARE about 50 of them!!

    LOOK at the many choices available to them which offer wide variety of climates, locals, cuisine, degrees of conservatism/liberlism and importantly VARIOUS SECTS.

    Saudi Arabia
    Qatar
    Kuwait
    Morocco
    United Arab Emirates
    Bahrain
    Oman
    Iran
    Malaysia
    Indonesia
    Bangladesh
    Albania
    Kosovo
    parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, parts of Bulgaria, Montenegro and Macedonia are majority Muslim
    Pakistan
    Turkmenistan,
    Uzbekistan
    all the other stans AND MORE!!!

  • Charles C.

    I’d like to emphasize some of the passages in the article.

    “Pope Francis and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have consistently called for the U.S. government and international community to support Syrian refugees, both Christian and non-Christian.”

    “Bishop Andrew Cozzens, auxiliary bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said Syrian
    refugees should be viewed “as people in need, not as terrorists. . . . we have to
    remember that we have a responsibility to help refugees, and that many of them are Christians fleeing for their lives because they have been kicked out of their homes by Islamic extremists. . . . We must open our hearts to these people who have lost
    their homes, and many have lost their homes because they share our faith
    and . . . refused to deny their faith.” ”

    So, “many of them are Christians.” “Support Syrian refugees, both Christian and non-Christian.” All righty, then. From an article published November 22

    “The United States has admitted only five Syrian Christians since Oct. 1, when the administration began to implement President Obama’s directive to accept 10,000 refugees. Christian refugees account for 1.6 percent of the total number of arrivals this year thus far, according to Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing Systems.

    Three Syrian Catholics, one Syrian Christian and one Orthodox Christian have arrived in the country since Oct. 1, according to Washington Free Beacon, which quoted data from WRAPS. Since January, 1,875 Syrians have arrived, and only 30 of them are Christian, the data shows. Of the total arrivals, 1,833 – or 97.8 percent – are Muslims, it added.”
    http://www.christianpost.com/news/us-accepts-only-5-syrian-christian-refugees-since-october-150634/

    Good luck finding one of the five Christian Syrian refugees.

  • tschraad

    Christians Bishop Andrew Cozzens “He said he favored appropriate screening measures, “but we have to remember that we have a responsibility to help refugees, and that many of them are Christians”

    If the Bishop was serious, he would be demanding that we help them by leaving them in a safe zone in their country or a neighboring country. We should treat them “as people in need, not as terrorists.”’

    This is stupid as we are allowing more terrorists into the country than we have allowed Christians. Why wasn’t the Bishop making news when the Christians were being raped, killed and beheaded a couple of years ago. Now the bulk of Christians are dead, we want these killers to have access to our neighborhoods to kill more Christians.

  • Charles C.

    For those statistics buffs among you, there is another excellent reason why Minnesota is unlikely to see Syrian refugees.

    Consider the states which have received at least 50 Syrians this claendar year. There are 12 of them. Except for California, and Pennsylvania, they are all led by Republican governors. (Kentucky is odd, a Republican recently won the governorship in a special election.)

    So with just those 12 states, Republican governors will have received 1148 Syrians, and Democrats, 337.

    Nine of the top ten states receiving Syrians, per capita, are Republican states.

    And to look at the full spread of history, consider the program from its start in March of 2011 to December 1, 2015. Of the states receiving at least 30 Syrians, 15 are Republican and 4 are Democratic.

    Governor Dayton and Minnesota have good reason to believe they won’t be getting many Syrians in the next year.