COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Efforts to resettle a small number of Syrian refugees already faced some skepticism in parts of South Carolina before the recent attacks in Paris by ISIS.
Since those attacks, a group of mostly Republican governors and state leaders have called for a stoppage of resettling Syrian refugees in their respective states fearing that some of those refugees may include terrorists trying to get into the United States.
However, those requests from governors including Gov. Nikki Haley trouble citizens in the Midlands who have Syrian roots.
Resettlement organizations including Lutheran Services of the Carolinas insist the background check system that is now in place is extensive. They say it takes as many as two years to finish and would not allow terrorists to slip through.
Mohammed Saadeddin, the owner of Al-Amir across from City Hall, has lived in the U.S. for more than 32 years and loves his community.
"When I saw what she did during the flood and the work she'd done over here, I really respected that very well," said Saadeddin. "But when I heard that last night, I thought that's very short-sighted, especially for somebody with her background, somebody who came for the American dream and succeeded. You cannot turn your back on them. All these innocent people, women and children, just for you to score a point for your party. It is very sad to see that."
University of South Carolina assistant professor Breanne Grace, who has lived in refugee camps and specializes in research on the resettlement process, noted that 35 percent of Syrian immigrants -- not refugees -- who have entered the U.S. since 2012 have college degrees. She also says some who have cleared the resettlement process still might not get here for years as they wait their turn.
"I think Americans are afraid. And there is legitimacy in that concern," Grace said. "Terrorism is a scary thing and it's a scary thing when it's decentralized from states. We're no longer concerned about Germany invading France for instance. It's ISIS which is this de-territorialized unit. So in some ways, it's even more scary because you don't know what to fear. That being said, there's no evidence that refugees are connected to ISIS especially the refugees that have been processed by the US government incredibly thoroughly."
Saadeddin says the U.S. vetting process for refugees has been proven to be extremely effective and there have been no recent cases of refugees creating security risks in America.
Haley is one of about 25 governors to oppose resettling Syrian refugees.