Hussein Ali, 25, says the plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees “is not proportional for the size of the crisis.”
In 2009, Hussein Ali left Yarmouk Camp in Damascus, Syria, for the U.S. to settle in Lynnwood.
Ali is an engineer, but he’s also a founder of the Washington Rescue Committee for Syrian Refugees, an organization that recently hosted a brainstorm session at the University of Washington in Seattle to think of ways to help those trying to leave Syria.
He said the U.S. decision to accept 10,000 refugees from Syria is “a step in the right direction,” but added allowing 10,000 people into the U.S. “is not proportional for the size of the crisis.”
“My area now is in the midst of total disaster and destruction,” Ali, 25, said. The conditions of Yarmouk Camp, which also has a large population of Palestinians, was described by a United Nations official in early April as “beyond inhumane.” Ali said the area is controlled by ISIS, adding friends of his have been killed by the organization.
Most Read Local Stories
- Severity of 'bomb cyclone' uncertain, but Seattle area should prepare for wind, rain and power outages
- Black leaders call on Seattle mayoral candidate M. Lorena González to pull 'racist' ad saying Bruce Harrell sided with sex abusers
- Seattle-area pet owners face long waits, and vet staff are burned out
- Motorcyclist presumed dead after hitting car on I-90 bridge and falling into Lake Washington
- Cargo ship on fire off Victoria, B.C., while combustible containers float in Strait of Juan de Fuca
Members of Ali’s family joined him in the U.S. in 2013. He attended the UW Bothell.
“[The United States] is a country of immigrants,” he said. “It’s a country that’s always taken refugees and helped refugees.”
Ali compared the U.S. quota of resettling refugees, 70,000-per-year, to Germany. The Germans are bracing for some 800,000 asylum seekers this year. In Syria, 11.6 million people have been chased from the country or uprooted from their homes because of the civil war.
Anny Khan, who moved to the U.S. from Pakistan twice — once as a child and then again in 2005 — said she did a double-take when she saw the announcement that the U.S. will accept 10,000 refugees from Syria.
“It sounds like a joke,” she said. The U.S. should take 70,000 to 100,000 Syrian refugees per year, she said.
Khan, 31, lives in Renton and said she and other advocates are meeting Sunday in Burien with Washington lawmakers to discuss the crisis, and said they have contacted Washington state U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, among others, to urge the U.S. to take more refugees.
“At some point you say enough is enough, we can do more,” she said. “Our government can definitely do more.”
Isra Ayesh, a 19-year-old Shoreline resident and Palestinian-American, said the U.S. needs to expedite the process of applying for asylum. She has been an outspoken advocate for Palestine, and said she’s attending the meeting in Burien, too.
“10,000 people won’t cut it,” she said. Ayesh and Khan said their Muslim faith is a large driver in their advocacy to help refugees.
King County has an estimated population of 277 Syrian-born people, according to the 2013 American Community Survey, a division of the U.S. Census Bureau. Ali said he and others are urging the U.S. to accept more immigrants but are also advocating to help Syrian refugees already living in the U.S.