- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A candlelight vigil has been held for Syrian refugees in downtown Lincoln a week after Gov. Pete Ricketts joined other Republican governors expressing concern over federal screening of Syrian refugees who want to enter the United States.

The Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1QG5zj0 ) reports that people, including faith leaders, gathered Monday at Tower Square to welcome Syrian refugees to Nebraska. The Rev. David Lux of Saint Paul United Methodist Church told those who gathered at the vigil that the city has always welcomed people fleeing violence or persecution.

“We are a refuge for people all over the world,” Lux said.

The governors cited security concerns in a letter to President Barack Obama last week following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. The attacks stoked fears that terrorists might use refugees from Syria as a cover to move across borders.

Gov. Ricketts has also urged resettlement organizations not to accept Syrian refugees until federal security procedures are examined. Ricketts wrote in his weekly column Monday that “My request is not about keeping Syrian refugees out of Nebraska, but rather ensuring that we keep potential terrorists out of our state and our country.”

Nancy Lambert of the United Methodist Church’s Great Plains Conference read a statement from Bishop Scott Jones that said the vast majority of Muslims are allies to the U.S., and aiding people who are fleeing violence in the Middle East is “one of the strongest things we can do” in the fight against Islamic State militants.

Lutheran Family Services, Nebraska’s largest refugee settlement agency, has said that it will honor the governor’s request to suspend working with Syrians who wish to come to the county as refugees. But they said the move will not prevent the organization from aiding Syrians who enter the U.S. by other means. The organization’s vice president of development, Ruth Henneman, said that in in the past three years the group has helped 10 Syrians who have sought asylum in Nebraska since civil war engulfed their country in 2011.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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