RICHMOND, Va. -- A majority of Virginians oppose allowing Syrian refugees into the United States, according to a new poll from the University of Mary Washington.
The poll found 56 percent of Virginians oppose President Barack Obama’s plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refuges into the U.S.
It also found 61 percent of Virginians believe allowing Syrian refugees into the country will increase the risk of a future terrorist attack in America.
But, Kate Ayers, who heads up ReEstablish Richmond, a non-profit group that assists hundreds of refugees in Central Virginia, said she would be happy to help Syrian refugees.
“The history of the United States has been open to all who have come,” Ayers said.
Authorities said one of the terrorists who carried out the deadly attacks in Paris had a Syrian passport, which may have been stolen.
Even so, Ayers said the U.S. has a stringent vetting process for refugees.
“It is a process of filling out applications, in person interviews…background checks, medical checks…and people going back to check that what they’re saying is indeed true,” Ayers said.
Zuhir Idlbi grew up in Syria, but now lives in Henrico. His father was once the Mayor of the country’s capital, Damascus.
Idlbi said he understands American’s concerns about refugees from his homeland.
“You have to be careful, be careful for your own people, of course,” Idlbi said.
Yet, he said recent calls from Republican Presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz to ban Muslim refugees, not Christian refugees, does not make sense.
“A terrorist has no religion, terrorism has no religion, it’s about the person, how they were taught, manipulated,” Idlbi said.
Governor Terry McAuliffe says he will allow Syrian refugees in Virginia, but more than half of governors in the U.S. have said they will not accept them.
The Obama Administration points out, however, the refugee issue is entirely a federal issue whether states agree or not.