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Dallas Mayor: ‘Very Proud’ That City Is Stepping Up And Welcoming Refugees

Krystina Martinez
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings in the fall of 2014.

While the Texas governor has been trying to block Syrian refugees from entering the state, Dallas is taking a different stance.

Dallas is welcoming refugees, Mayor Mike Rawlings tells The Takeaway, the public radio program.

“I’m very proud of the faith-based communities here in the Dallas area and citizens that are stepping up,” Rawlings said in aninterview that aired Monday. “The practical matter of this is that refugees themselves do not cause us harm. There have been no terrorist attacks since 9/11 because of refugees.”

Earlier this month, a family of six Syrian refugees arrived in Dallas. The state of Texas recently sued the federal government and a nonprofit over Syrian refugees arriving in the state. Texas is one of about 30 states that has opposed the resettlement process, following last month’s deadly attacks in Paris.

Meanwhile, hundreds of undocumented children from Central America have been sent to campsites in Ellis and Rockwall counties in North Texas. The kids were detained by U.S. Border Patrol after entering the country illegally. Many are fleeing violence and poverty in their homeland.

More unaccompanied kids are expected to arrive at Camp Arrowhead in Somervell County near Glen Rose at the end of the month. The kids will stay at the camps for 21 days.

Listen to Rawling's interview: 

Interview Highlights: Mike Rawlings

… on infighting in the U.S.: “I think the infighting we’re having in the United States is problematic. But I also think what we’re seeing is a more diversified world that we live in. We’re talking about terrorism here, but then you can look at what’s happening in the streets of Chicago and other cities as well—there is a militancy out there and a diversification going on, and both of these things are colliding. It’s very important for leaders to be steely eyed, thoughtful, close their mouths at times, and do what’s right for the end objective.”

… on being welcoming, yet vigilant: “A year and a few months ago we dealt with Ebola, which was an immigrant, and we’re dealing with Central American young men and women who are trying to get out of the drug havens there—we’ve got 500 of them settled now just south of Dallas. We’ve got to be ever-vigilant, and we’ve got to make sure we work with Homeland Security and all the federal agencies, but we can’t be so xenophobic that we shut ourselves off to everything else.”

… on meeting immigrants from around the world in Dallas: “It’s a very human story. Last week I went to one of our places in our city where we have the most refugees and [members of] the immigrant population. We lit up trees in that area—they had not had holiday trees before. I met a young girl from Burma, another girl from Vietnam, another girl from Syria, and another girl from Central America—all right here in Dallas, Texas. I was realizing that the 21st century, that is going to be the face of it. We’ve got to be a new America as we approach these issues that we face.”

Read more here.

The Takeaway airs at 11 a.m. weekdays on KERA 90.1 FM.