Allentown Welcomes Syrian Refugees

Allentown, Pa. (WTXF) What will happen to millions of refugees fleeing war, human rights abuses and a lack of opportunity in Syria. It's a question that's sparked heated exchanges from Eastern Europe to right here in the U.S.

President Obama says he wants to welcome at least 10,000 refugees. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf says he's on board with the plan. So how will that work and what unique challenges will refugees and officials face in our area?

FOX 29's Karen Hepp's reports from Allentown where there's already a strong community of Syrian Americans. She shares one family's brave story.

The little twins were only a few months old when their father knew it was time to pack up all six young children and flee Syria. He said when bombs came down explosions blew out his doors, he knew time to take the kids and go

Ten family members had already been killed. He's afraid more will be if he's identified but wanted people to see who exactly the refugees are. Many of them are young children. They were vetted for a year and a half before they came here

"The Syrian refugees not economic refugees they are coming for a safe place to live. They had houses lives ripped apart destroyed for them," said Nagi Lateta with the Muslim Association of Lehigh Valley

"If we don't shame on us, shame on us as a nation as a people shame on us as a city," said Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

Allentown has one of the largest Syrian/American populations in the country. Most came decades ago as far back as the 1800s. Most Christian, Lutheran and other interfaith church leaders are leading a charge to reject fear and hate and welcome those in need.

"Being a nation of immigrants we owe it to these people to be of assistance," said District Attorney Jim Martin.