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Clarkston welcomes refugees with open arms

Clarkston, GA: Mayor Ted Terry during City of Clarkston's Food Truck Festival. (Photo by Ben Abrams)
Clarkston, GA: Mayor Ted Terry during City of Clarkston’s Food Truck Festival. (Photo by Ben Abrams)

“The large population of refugees from countries around the world is something that makes Clarkston unique. Clarkston relishes its role as a refugee haven and welcomes newcomers with open arms,” said Clarkston mayor, Ted Terry during an interview with 90.1 WABE.

Clarkston is unique, half of its 13,000 citizen are not American-born with 80 percent of them being non-white while speaking over 60 languages. Shelby Lin Erdman of WABE reports that the Obama administration recently announced that it would inflate the number of Syrian refugees granted into the United States to 10,000. According to the United Nations more than 200,000 people have died in the civil war in Syria during the last four years.

“Georgia has one of the highest self-sufficiency rate of refugees. They are contributing. Refugees find their way to Clarkston. We can’t tell someone they can’t leave. Our city is a welcoming city. We, as a country, can afford to take in more than 10,000 people,”
said Terry, during the WABE radio show.

“We can take in more than 10,000 refugees. Because we have the resources, I feel that we should be able to share them with people. I agree that Clarkston’s refugee haven and a lot of people come from all over and they kind of live in Atlanta, but Clarkston is the area where you find people from different nations everywhere. I think refugees migrate to Clarkston because they’ll find more people that they can relate to instead of being in downtown Atlanta. That’ll probably be weird,” said Chanice Kyei, a nursing major in Clarkston.

“We can afford to bring in more than 10,000 people. Because we contribute by paying taxes. I’m pretty sure there’s more than enough money to bring more than 10,000. I agree that the city of Clarkston is known as refugee haven when foreigners first come to Atlanta, like when my family first came here they moved near the Clarkston area, because it’s like you know people from this area and you get more job opportunities as a refugee migrates to Clarkston because they’re family members are most likely here, and you want to be closer to your family no matter where you’re from,”
said Akua Agyena, a chemisty and secondary education major in Clarkston.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the federal government came to the conclusion that Clarkston was a great place for refugees to reside. At the time Clarkston had transportation, affordable housing, and was abandoned by middle class white residents. Since 1996 more than 19,000 refugees established a life in Georgia, mostly in DeKalb and Clarkston. Somalis are the largest group of refugees who account for over half of the population.

“We have the funds necessary to take care of these people. I also agree that it’s a refugee haven because, I see refugees here all the time and they look extremely happy to be here. I think refugees migrate to Clarkston because of the environment, it’s a pleasing environment. The people are welcoming, there is a good education system set up in the area. There’s public transportation, it’s easier living,”
said Tucker Ellis, a supply chain management major in Clarkston.

Refugees from all over the world work and stay amongst each other. Statistics show that 16,000 refugees have entered the state of Georgia, and out of that amount, 2,300 migrated to Clarkston. Clarkston have been named “the most diverse city” in metro Atlanta, due to the great amount of people that come from all around the world. Clarkston’s colorful union, is proof that everyone can work and live together, no matter where they are from.

About Hassanatou Bah

Staff Writer

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