Allentown mayor says Syrian refugees welcome

Written by The Associated Press | Nov 24, 2015 4:54 AM

The Rev. Anthony Sabbagh and his brother Nasser Sabbagh work at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Allentown, a Syrian Christian church founded in 1916. The church is providing aid to Syrian refugees in the Lehigh Valley and in Syria. (Laura Benshoff/WHYY)

(Allentown) -- The mayor of Allentown, which has one of the nation's largest Syrian populations, says his city welcomes Syrian refugees and will help support them as they get settled in the United States.  

Mayor Ed Pawlowski spoke in Allentown as debate intensifies nationally over the federal government's plan to accept an additional 10,000 refugees from the war-ravaged nation. 

Allentown has accepted nine families since March for a total of 44 people.

Dozens more are expected over the next year. 

The area's Syrian community dates to the late 1800s and now numbers about 5,200.

Some Syrian-Amerian Christians in Allentown oppose the placement of Muslim refugees in the city, saying they're worried about extremists. 

But Pawlowski says he's confident in the vetting process. He says residents shouldn't succumb to fear.  

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