Syrian refugees living in St. Louis say they’ve come seeking peace

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - While the debate rages on about whether to let Syrian refugees into the United States, about 2,000 are already in the country, and 29 of them have settled in St. Louis.

Most of those living in St. Louis declined interviews, but on Thursday, Fox 2 News was able to speak with a Syrian husband and wife who came to St. Louis five months ago from Turkey, where they had been waiting for clearance to get into the United States.

Because they are fearful for the welfare of their family members still in Syria, they have asked that their names not be revealed.

They are the parents of six children, five of whom came with them to St. Louis. The other lives in Germany.

The man was a real estate agent in Syria, the woman was a housewife.

Speaking through a translator, the man described the 18-month-long background check that had to be completed before being granted entrance into the United States.

“(Homeland Security) didn’t leave a single stone unturned,” he said.

“They went through my life, from when I was born to the time I arrived in Turkey; where I went to school, where I worked, where I went to high school, what I did, who were my neighbors. Every part of my life was uncovered by the U.S. government before they brought me here. And I told them upfront if you find one hair about me that is indecent, then don’t bring me to the U.S. They were very thorough.”

The woman said she could appreciate why Americans may have reservations about allowing more refugees from Syria.

“I understand why they are afraid, because these terrorists are attacking children, innocent civilians, and I too would be afraid, but it doesn’t mean all Syrians are like that,” she said.

The couple knows the ISIS attack in Paris may lead to a backlash against refugees already in the U.S.

“We are people who don’t like trouble,” she said. “We left a country that was full of trouble and war and crime and we came here seeking peace, and now we feel like we have caused more trouble, even though it’s not our fault. We feel like there is going to be more trouble for us, so we are worried and scared, but at the same time we feel like the American people are pretty understanding.”