COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The refugee crisis dominating headlines in Europe is getting more attention in the U.S.
And on Thursday the Obama administration responded with a call to expand the number of Middle Eastern refugees to be brought to this country.
So far, the proposal targets Syrian refugees and does not include specific locations in the U.S. But refugee resettlement efforts are nothing new for the Midlands and the state.
South Carolina has both public and faith-based infrastructures for dealing with refugee resettlement.
In 2004, the Columbia area took in about 125 Somali Bantu refugees, helping them to find food, housing, jobs and schools.
Right now in Spartanburg County at least 20 of 60 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo are being introduced to life in America, an effort that has drawn at least one legal challenge.
The Somali refugees arrived in Columbia after that plan ran into opposition in Cayce.
There's already criticism of any move to relocate Middle Eastern refugees to the U.S.
Lutheran Services of the Carolinas was the lead organization helping the Bantu more than a decade ago.
"I certainly hope that people would be welcoming and that they would understand that in the times of such a huge humanitarian crisis it is the right thing to help the least of us and help those that are in need and those refugees that are fleeing countries, fleeing their home country because of the war, because of the persecution, because they don't feel safe and will probably not feel safe in a very very long time," said Bedrija Jazic with Lutheran Services. "They're trying to start a new life just like the generations and generations of Americans."
Former Columbia Mayor Bob Coble helped lead the effort to accommodate the Somalis. His successor, Mayor Steve Benjamin issued a statement on Thursday:
"I can't imagine that anyone could look at the images we've seen coming out of the Syrian refugee crisis and not be moved and moved to action.
We welcome the opportunity to do our part in what should be a national strategy that lives up to our nation's proudest traditions and meets this crisis with open arms, compassion and grace. That is who we are as Americans and it is simply the right thing to do."