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The Daily Tar Heel

Mayor Kleinschmidt signs letter to encourage immigration reform in the United States

Mark Kleinschmidt

Mark Kleinschmidt

Nearly 9 million Syrian refugees have been displaced from their homes since 2011, which marked the outbreak of the civil war in Syria. As the number of refugees grows larger, there is both a national and an international call to increase efforts to provide aid.

Kleinschmidt is a member of Cities United for Immigration Action, an organization dedicated to passing immigration reform in the United States. He, along with other mayors who are part of the organization, signed a letter addressed to President Barack Obama not only commending him for his decision to bring at least 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States, but also urging him to take in many more with their full cooperation.

“I’ve been active in this organization of mayors who are working closely together to encourage the president to move forward with immigration policy,” Kleinschmidt said. “It just seems like a good fit for us to respond as well to the refugee crisis.”

Kleinschmidt said he has a lot of confidence in the people of Chapel Hill to accept these refugees.

“I am very sure that we will be true to our values in responding to this current crisis,” he said.

The Refugee Support Center (RSC) is an organization located in Orange County that seeks to assist refugees and immigrants in their pursuit of self-sufficiency. The volunteer-based institution provides different services intended for this goal, such as assistance with transportation, health care access and finance management.

Flicka Bateman, the director of the RSC, said she is optimistic about the inclusion of refugees in Orange County.

“I think Chapel Hill should welcome all refugees,” Bateman said. “I think that refugees have been so thoroughly in the process of gaining refugee status, a form of protection, that whatever worries there are in terms of domestic security should be allayed through this process.”

She also said she appreciated Kleinschmidt’s decision to help refugees, and was thankful for Orange County during the refugee crisis from Burma over the past few years.

“I’m just really appreciative of the mayor’s overture,” said Bateman. “He has had a heart for refugees before the Syrian refugee crisis occurred. I also thank the people in Orange County. It has just been wonderful to see how welcoming people have been over the years to the refugees from Burma.”

Montek Singh, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at UNC and a resident of Chapel Hill, wants his town to be open to the refugees.

“We should welcome any and all refugees,” said Singh. “They’ve been uprooted from a country they’ve lived in their whole lives. Many have come to the U.S. for the first time.”


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