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Efforts to Resettle Syrian Refugees In WV Thrown into Chaos

Resettlement groups such as the West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministries are considering what to do in light of President Trump's travel ban. (WV IRM)
Resettlement groups such as the West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministries are considering what to do in light of President Trump's travel ban. (WV IRM)
January 30, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- President Trump's executive order barring refugees is sparking confusion in West Virginia and around the country.

In Charleston, Interfaith Refugee Ministries has been preparing to accept Syrian families. Paul Sheridan, a volunteer with the group, said they'd just received clearance from a national Episcopal refugee resettlement agency and from the U.S. State Department. Now he said that's in chaos.

Sheridan said that although these kinds of efforts can hit roadblocks, they still reflect West Virginians' instincts for kindness and decency.

"Yes, it's very frustrating. And I think the fairest way to put it at this point is we don't know what this is going to mean,” Sheridan said. "But we did this as a state and as a community in the wake of Katrina. And I think if we really ask ourselves who we are, I think this is who we are."

Trump's administration has argued that the ban is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. Critics charge that's a hysterical misconception of this law abiding population.

Sheridan said Charleston could use an influx of new people, especially given that Muslim immigrants tend to be highly educated and often start new businesses. He said refugees from Syria offer a lot at a very low risk.

"Refugees are the most thoroughly vetted of any foreigners who enter the United States,” he said. "It's a process that currently takes somewhere between two and three years, and it's hard to imagine that there's any safety factor that actually gets improved."

According to the Cato Institute, the chance of being killed by a refugee terrorist is less than one in 3 billion per year. The chance of an American being murdered by someone other than a foreign-born terrorist is 250 times greater.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV