YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown held a community forum to discuss the thought of bringing refugees to Youngstown.
About 200 people, both for and against the idea, attended the meeting at Saint Columba Hall Wednesday night.
It was an opportunity for those who are enthusiastic about the possibility of refugee resettlement, as well as those who may be resistant to the idea, to learn more about the issue, ask questions and engage in a dialogue.
There are currently 65.3 million displaced persons throughout the world. Of that total, 25 million have legal standing as refugees and are free to immigrate.
“This is our attempt, the first attempt to educate people to the real needs of our sisters and brothers, especially who are the victims of political unrest and violence,” said Rev. David Berger with Catholic Charities.
Dee, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, told the crowd what his life was like before making his home in Cleveland, gradating from college and going to the Olympics.
That’s why he’s so passionate about giving refugees a second chance in a new community like Youngstown.
“Maybe 25 to 30 people, which is not that many, and help them by being involved in the work of the Catholic Charities here,” said Cleveland Migration and Refugee Services Director Thomas Mrosco.
About a year ago as he ran for president, Ohio Governor John Kasich said he opposes allowing Syrian refugees because he doesn’t believe the U.S. can adequately screen them.
Kelly Gauger, deputy director of the U.S. Department of State Refugee Admissions, says that isn’t true.
“Refugees who are resettled to the United States are subject to the highest level of security of any category of traveler that comes to the U.S.”
Pending legislation in the Ohio Senate, passed by the House, could potentially ban refugees from entering the state.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, less than one percent of all refugees are eventually resettled in third countries. The U.S., however, welcomes over half of these refugees, more than all other resettlement countries combined.
Since 1975, Americans have welcomed over 3 million refugees from all over the world.