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Saturday, December 7, 2019

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Students protest Syrian refugees block, demand halt to war


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The Houston Anti-War Committee and the Students for a Democratic Society held a march on Saturday protesting the blockage of Syrian refugees. | Photo by Sara Samora/TheCougar

The Houston Anti-War Committee and the Students for a Democratic Society held a march in front of the library, protesting the emergency order to block the incoming Syrian refugees as well as chanting an end to U.S. wars.

Creative writing freshman Brandon Garcia participated in the march and said he feels this is the most important issue of his time.

“We’ve never seen something like this before,” Garcia said. “It’s insane to know that there are so many people just performing such a mass exodus of a country. (It) is terrifying. It’s literally almost biblical.”

While the turnout for the march was not grand, the participants continued to chant, “no to war, yes to peace. U.S. out of the Middle East,” and “Hey, (Gov. Greg) Abbott, Let’s be clear, refugees are welcome here.”

Corporate communications senior Jonpaul Clayton watched the demonstration as he passed by.

“I think it’s hilarious,” Clayton said. “They got seven people out here, and they’re wanting to turn over the GOP and all the government officials, in the safety of Texans and Americans to promote their left-wing extremist idea.”

Clayton said the reason he’s against Syrian refugees coming to Texas is because they will never become Americans.

“They don’t actually want to become Americans,” Clayton said. “They just want to get out of where they are.”

Clayton said the best option for anybody is for the Syrian refugees to find a friendly country in the Middle East, or a country that they’re used to or more similar to, such as Turkey or Egypt.

“(It doesn’t) matter if they’re Middle Eastern or Europeans — find a country that would welcome them, and give them food source to help give them new lives in a country that’s more like what they’re used to,” Clayton said. “We don’t speak their language; those countries do.”

Garcia said it is terrifying to know that the Syrian refugees are suffering.

“They’re caught in between a war, between powers that are so much more powerful than they are,” Garcia said.

“We don’t understand what that’s like because we’re in such a safe country, we’re in such a powerful country. The fact that we’re denying them, and there’s this war wage between all these powers, it’s terrifying and it’s also killing them.”

Houston is expecting one of two refugee families to enter the state on Monday. Nine more refugees are scheduled to arrive on Thursday.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Texas officials will seek a hearing next week on how closely the federal government coordinates with the state on refugee settlement.

“Texas shouldn’t have to go to court to require Washington to comply with federal law regarding its duties to consult with Texas in advance,” State Attorney General Ken Paxton said in the report.

“Our state will continue legal proceedings to ensure we get the information necessary to adequately protect the safety of Texas residents. While we remain concerned about the federal government’s overall refugee vetting process, we must ensure that Texas has the seat at the table that the Refugee Act requires.”

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