CLARKSTON, Ga. - The one-square mile city of Clarkston, Georgia has become a safe haven for refugees from all over the world. Twenty years ago, U.S. officials identified the central DeKalb city located just outside of Interstate 285 as a good fit for refugees. The rental market was good and access to public transportation was a plus. Since then, refugee resettlement programs brought have brought families to Clarkston from dozens of countries in Africa, Europe and Asia.
Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry is proud of the role his city plays in improving the lives of refugees. That's why he was disappointed when Governor Nathan Deal said Monday he wants to put a stop to Syrian resettlement in Georgia--an announcement he and 32 other governors have made following news that one of terrorists involved in the Paris attacks slipped into France with Syrian refugees.
"We're talking about 750,000 refugees since September 11th who've been settled in Georgia, Clarkston and all over the country. Not a single one of them has been implicated in an act of domestic terrorism. I think that proves our vetting process works. I agree we should review it, but we shouldn't stop taking in Syrians," Mayor Ted Terry told FOX 5' Portia Bruner.
Life-long Clarkston resident Hazel Poe told Bruner she is also proud her hometown has become a safe haven for families seeking refuge from persecution and oppression, but said after the Paris attacks, national security should take precedence.
"We've got enough here already and I know people are suffering but there's only so much we can do and so many we can take in. Look at the Egyptian plane explosion. Look at Paris. The terrorists keep finding ways of wiggling in and we have to take more steps to keep Americans safe," said Poe, standing in front of the home her family has owned for 56 years.
Mayor Terry said the Governor's position is largely symbolic and should not stop the U.S. State Department from relocating Syrians to Georgia.