Oak Ridge teen writes to Gov. Haslam, hoping he'll change stance - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Oak Ridge teen writes to Gov. Haslam, hoping he'll change stance on Syrian refugees

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 A 17-year-old Oak Ridge High School student is calling on state leaders to help Syrian refugees.

Gov. Bill Haslam this week was among 30 U.S. governors who called for a halt to the resettlement of refugees in the U.S. after the attacks on Paris. Critics, however, say very few in fact come to the U.S. anyway.

Alana Joldersma poster her letter on Facebook. Then, a family friend sent it to lawmakers, including Haslam and U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.

"Dear Governor Haslam - as a citizen of Tennessee, I would like to say that I am embarrassed and repulsed to live in one of the states that's not only closing their borders to Syrian refugees, but also considering rounding up Syrian refugees and sending them away."

Joldersma said she was upset by Haslam's stance "because America's known to be this melting pot of diversity, and we love to accept people of all cultures and backgrounds, yet we're closing our doors to people who are innocent."

Joldersma's classmate and close friend Quinn Bader has family in Syria, which has been engulfed in a civil war for several years that has taken more than 200,000 lives. Many Syrians are fleeing into Europe, seeking asylum.

"It's scary not knowing what's going to happen to family members. Sometimes we don't hear back from them and you just have to wonder and worry are they ok," said Bader.

Quinn worries the attacks on Paris on Nov. 13 that killed at least 129 could create a rift that permanently separates his family.

"I can't imagine my family members who want to talk to my father, who want to seek a safer life in the United States being denied just because of their nationality. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity for everyone and I really don't feel like we're living up to that right now," said Bader.

Joldersma and Bader also want people across the country to take part in the conversation, and hope it turns to action before more lives are lost.

"I think it's important to figure out something as soon as we can and help these people, because I know the vetting process alone can take up to two years as it is, and some of these Syrian refugees don't have two more years," said Joldersma.

On Monday, Haslam said: "We as a state must do everything we can to provide Tennesseans the safe environment to live, work and raise a family that so many across the world seek," he wants Tennessee to become a partner in the vetting process before more refugees are settled here.

Several Tennessee members of Congress also said the U.S. needed to halt accepting such refugees and examine its policies about accepting such people given the current circumstances.

One state lawmaker, Glen Casada, said this week he thinks the time has come for the National Guard to round up any Syrian refugees who have recently settled in the state and to stop any additional Syrian refugees from entering Tennessee.

Visit the original story at www.wbir.com 

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