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Syrian refugees, advocates press Hogan to change course

Syrian refugees and their advocates came to Annapolis to persuade Governor Larry Hogan to accept Syrian refugees in Maryland. (Erin Cox, Baltimore Sun video)

Advocates for Syrian refugees asked Gov. Larry Hogan to meet Monday with a pair of cousins recently arrived from the war-torn region, hoping to persuade him that Maryland should welcome people fleeing terrorism.

About a dozen people, including Syrians, and refugees from Sudan and Liberia, came to Annapolis Monday to press Hogan to reverse his stance on settling Syrian refugees here.

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"We hope that the governor receives the correct view about Syrian people, that we are a peaceful people," Yahya Alcharabiti, a Syrian refugee, said through a translator at an Annapolis press conference.

The governor's staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The Syrian American Council last week asked the governor to meet with Alcharabiti and his cousin, who also resettled in Baltimore after fleeing violence in Syria three years ago. Hogan's office has not responded to the request.

Separately on Monday, a half dozen clergy members of different faiths brought Hogan a petition bearing 2,150 signatures from religious leaders across the country, urging him to promote the settlement of refugees. About 100 clergy from Maryland signed the petition.

"We are prepared to open our doors and welcome these Syrian refugees to our communities, with faith that existing procedures for accepting refugees will protect or safety," Rabbi Stephen J. Weisman told reporters at the State House. "And we invite our governor, now fully restored to strength, to stop the divisive rhetoric."

Last Tuesday, Hogan joined more than two dozen other governors in asking the federal government not to send Syrians to their states. The governors have no authority to reject the refugees, but they asked that any Syrian refugees be sent elsewhere.

Hogan took a more tempered position than some of his fellow Republicans in other states, asking that federal government refrain from sending Syrian refugees here until it is clear they pose no danger to public safety in Maryland.

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