One US community says refugees saved their city

CCTV News

One U.S. community says reguees saved their city2

While Paris attacks have sparked a debate in Europe and the U.S. about letting in Syrian refugees, one American town has been welcoming to refugees for decades. CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg reports from in Clarkston, Georgia.

The city of Clarkston, Georgia is one of America’s most diverse places, more than half of its nearly 8,000 residents were born abroad. Many were resettled here as refugees by the U.S. government after the mostly white middle class started leaving this Atlanta suburb in the 1980s and 1990s.

One U.S. community says reguees saved their city

One U.S. community says reguees saved their city

While Paris attacks have sparked a debate in Europe and the U.S. about letting in Syrian refugees, one American town has been welcoming to refugees for decades. CCTV America's Roee Ruttenberg reports from in Clarkston, Georgia. The city of Clarkston, Georgia is one of America's most diverse places, more than half of its nearly 8,000 residents were born abroad. Many were resettled here as refugees by the U.S. government after the mostly white middle class started leaving this Atlanta suburb in the 1980s and 1990s.

Awet Eyasu was born in Eritrea and came here fifteen years ago. He was just elected to Clarkston’s City Council.

“It’s become really a haven for refugees fleeing from war zones all over the world honestly. They have been coming to Clarkston for over 20 years and Clarkston has been able to really immerse these people,” Eyasu said.

Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in Bill Mehlinger’s grocery store. Nearly all his staff, and customers, are refugees. He now stocks his shelves with products they know.

“A lot of them don’t drive. They don’t drive to the nearest chain store or supercenters. They walk here, do their grocery shopping. They walk to the pharmacy next door, fill their prescriptions. There are restaurants for them in this area that they’re familiar with, Mehlinger said.

Mehlinger said that refugees saved his business and local officials said they saved the city. Refugees have had a net-positive effect on the local economy, city officials said, and their presence has helped reduce crime rates to nearly zero.

That’s good news for Aras Moussa, a Kurdish refugee from northern Syria, who recently resettled in Clarkston.

“I want my kids to go to school and study and become doctors, and have a good future. And me too. I would like to work, and work on my future here in America: buy a house and a car, and be happy here. I am settling-in,” Moussa said.

Local activist and entrepreneur Aladdin Kanawati is the son of Syrian immigrants and he’s just launched a ride-share business to help refugees collectively get to work. It’s called KNWT Transport.

“They are sitting around and they’ve lost everything. And all they want is a new beginning and they want to be able to work. And the issue with them finding work has been reliable transportation and the ability to make it to work consistently, not just the first couple weeks, but for long periods of time,” Kanawati said.

Aladdin’s furthest stop is 90 minutes away, which means the Clarkston-effect is spreading well beyond this small city’s borders.


Gregory Chen discusses economic impact of refugees

CCTV America’s Phillip TK Yin interviewed Gregory Chen, advocacy director at the American Immigration Lawyers Association about the economic impact of refugees.

Gregory Chen discusses economic impact of refugees

Gregory Chen discusses economic impact of refugees

CCTV America's Phillip TK Yin interviewed Gregory Chen, advocacy director at the American Immigration Lawyers Association about the economic impact of refugees.