Aiken county discussing ordinance to keep Syrian refugees from settling there

Syrian refugees gather outside the government house at Independence Square, in Montevideo, Uruguay, Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. Some members of a group of Syrian refugees who were welcomed to Uruguay last year are staging a protest outside the government house, demanding authorities allow them to leave the South American country. They say local officials promised more than they could deliver and that Uruguay is expensive and there are no jobs. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)

Aiken County leaders are discussing an ordinance to keep Syrian Refugees from settling there.

It was a heated debate, but in the end Aiken County Council voted 7 to 2 against relocating Syrian Refugees.

They also voted against giving any state funds to the program.

Emotions ran high on and off the platform as Aiken County Council discussed Syrian refugees coming into the Palmetto State.

Council members went down the line to explain their reasoning behind their decisions.
Council members LaWana McKenzie and Wilar Hightower were the only two who spoke in favor of the refugee resettlement program.

Hightower read a lengthy speech about why South Carolina should accept refugees, while McKenzie quoted Bible verses.

Differing opinions on the controversial debate led to some personal jabs and out of turn yelling in the chambers.

“It’s completely unacceptable to say that we should discriminate just on people’s religion,” David Matos with the Aiken Peace Group said.

Another man said, “There is just no fairness to it.”

The Aiken Peace Group held a candle light vigil outside of the chambers to welcome Syrian refugees, in hopes of changing the minds of those on council.

“We can’t give into fear because of a far fetched remote possibility we can’t be afraid to go outside of our house and continue living our life,” Matos explained.

Group leader, Matos says letting these people into the United States is the right thing to do.

“When we give into the fear we are really letting the terrorists win we should still be doing the right thing,” Matos said.

The majority of council voted it’s just too risky, and the majority of the audience stood in agreement.

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