In Annapolis, Calls For Maryland to Keep Welcoming Syrians

When Governor Larry Hogan announced last week that he didn’t want any more Syrian refugees resettled in Maryland, it got the attention of many Syrian-Americans who call the state home.

The Maryland chapter of the Syrian American Council, disturbed by Governor Hogan’s stance, held a demonstration and press conference in front of the State Capitol in Annapolis on Monday, to invite Governor Hogan to meet first-hand with a Syrian refugee family. “We hope that after meeting this family, Governor Hogan will reconsider his position that Syrian refugees are unwelcome in Maryland,” the group said.

They were joined by refugee relief organizations, faith and interfaith institutions, and human rights groups. HIAS, the Anti-Defamation League, the Episcopal Church, the NAACP and many others came to show their support for continuing to welcome Syrian refugees into the state.

Robert Marmor, HIAS’ Chief Strategic Officer, who attended the event, noted that HIAS was in the process of opening its new headquarters in Silver Spring. “Maryland has gladly welcomed HIAS headquarters to the state. I have felt very welcomed. There is no reason not to welcome Syrian refugees just as warmly,” Marmor said.   

Two Syrian refugees also attended the event. One was a young man who had arrived in the U.S. only four days ago. Speaking through an interpreter, he told the crowd that he was very thankful to the United States and to the state of Maryland. In a particularly touching moment, he requested a meeting with Governor Hogan to personally thank him and to inform him about the plight of Syrian refugees.

“Refugees are already more thoroughly vetted and screened than any other visitor to the United States,” said Melanie Nezer, vice president for policy & advocacy at HIAS. “Governor Hogan, and all governors, should be doing their part to continue our country’s long legacy as a leader in refugee protection and a beacon of hope for persecuted peoples, not shutting the door on those most in need of safe haven.”

“Using the tragedies in Paris as justification for requesting not to have Syrian refugees in the state demonstrates a lack of understanding of the extensive, intricate and immensely effective security process, as well as the history and character of our refugee resettlement program,” Marmor said. “As the global Jewish voice on refugees, HIAS has been fighting such racist and xenophobic attitudes for well over a century -- and we will continue to do so for as long as there is a need, regardless of the faith or nationality of those refugees.”

The Baltimore Sun has posted video of the event. You can view it here.

Search HIAS