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Arlington Co. says yes to Syrian Refugees | News

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Arlington Co. says yes to Syrian Refugees

ARLINGTON, Va. (WUSA9) -- While more than half of the nation's governors are saying "no" to Syrian refugees in their states, one county in our area is actually rolling out the welcome mat.

In fact, Arlington County, Va. is offering refugees services in both Arabic and English.

Even the US Census Bureau called Arlington "the world in a zip code." One hundred different languages are spoken in Arlington and this community could soon become even more diverse, if it accepts Syrian refugees.

Arlington, Va. has long been a melting pot of cultural diversity.

"We're all people. We're the human race. We should be able to work together and get along and enjoy one another, said Arlington resident Angel Austin.

In fact, when WUSA9 stopped random people on the street for interviews, most were immigrants.

"Of course, I believe that we should welcome them. It's the Christian thing to do," said Anne Danaher, who is from Ireland.

They support the settlement of Syrian refugees in Arlington, but only after extensive screening.

"If wherever they are living is going through turmoil, they should come over here and get a better life," said James Egbu, who is from Nigeria.

"This is our tradition. We have since the fall of Vietnam welcomed people from war-torn countries into Arlington," said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes.

Diversity is valued by Arlington officials, who believe it makes their community stronger.

"Whether you're talking about Central America, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Eritrea, or Bosnia, people have come to Arlington to start over." said Hynes.

Arlington is home to multiple government agencies and national landmarks, including the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery and the Air Force Memorial.

"Wasn't the bombers in Boston refugees? I'm not for it, that's for sure," said Sidney Chisholm from Prince William County.

That proximity to D.C. prompts others to say "no" to Syrian refugees, here or anywhere else in the United States. At least until the screening process is more stringent.

"That's what I would like to know. Is it like they ask them what their name is and they tell them a name and they're good to go? Are they going to be vetted like we are in this country for drivers' licenses, applying for jobs?," asked Arlington resident Jimmy Conway.

Arlington County is offering Syrian refugees what it offers to all new residents. English and computer classes, health screenings assistance, finding housing and more.

Officials say they understand the concerns over adequate screening, but have faith in the federal government's vetting of refugees. In order to come to Arlington, a refugee has to have family in the area or the feds would determine the community is a good fit.

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