Bowling Green is preparing to welcome Syrian refugees later this year who are fleeing their country’s civil war.
In a meeting Tuesday, the Bowling Green International Center and its community partners agreed to begin accepting 40 Syrian refugees in October. The resettlement has drawn the ire of some locals who are worried about the threat of terrorism.
"Many of our leaders and citizens of Bowling Green are not comfortable with the Obama administration's assertion that the federal government can confidently vet refugees from this part of the world," said Bowling Green City Commissioner Melinda Hill.
Immigrants relocating to the United States must complete a 14-step vetting process, according to Albert MBanfu, executive director of the Kentucky International Center.
"The fear is real," MBanfu told WKU Public Radio. "At the same time, we cannot allow fear to overcome the best we have in us as Americans."
Mbanfu added that any Syrian wanting to harm the U.S. would likely not come through the refugee program. Instead, they would likely arrive with a visitor’s visa that doesn’t require background checks.
The 40 Syrians are only a fraction of the 400 other refugees coming to Bowling Green this year, including from Africa, Asia, and Cuba.
Questions about the resettlement process were raised after the arrests of two Iraqi men who were living in Bowling Green in 2011. Both are in prison for conspiring to send weapons and cash to the terrorist group Al-Qaeda.