By SD6 John Carroll
SAN DIEGO – Which refugees should be let into the United States and which ones shouldn’t has been in the news a lot lately. For the last 18 months, since the rise of ISIS, one local man has been working to re-settle Chaldean Christians and other religious minorities from Iraq and Syria here in the U.S.
But now, he’s modified his approach.
Mark Arabo founded the Minority Humanitarian Foundation partly out of frustration that he wasn’t getting help from politicians in rescuing religious minorities from the murderous hands of ISIS.
He’s been working to bring them into the U.S. for more than a year, but with recent refusals by mainly Republican governors to admit the refugees to their states, the situation has become difficult. So now, Arabo has turned to Mexico.
“We had to do something and we knew that these governors were playing politics with humanity,” Arabo said.
The route for the refugees Arabo has tried to rescue takes them through Mexico. With the recent political issues surrounding refugees, many of them were getting stuck there.
Arabo reached out for help in the country’s second largest city of Guadalajara. He found it primarily through the Basilica De Zapopan and it’s parishioners.
“There’s a good amount of Iraqi Christrians and Chaldeans that live in Guadalajara already and so we’re looking into possibly building a church, we’re using a church right now and we’re also using the homes of some folks in the business community as orphanages,” he said.
The homes the refugees are temporarily housed in are a far cry from the horrible conditions many of them fled. But Arabo isn’t stopping there.
“We’re actually in the process right now of building a center, similar to a resettlement center and we’re using buildings that are already built and re-zoning them and re-doing their purpose,” Arabo said.
Arabo said with the political rhetoric surrounding refugees in the U.S. right now, some of them are telling him they’d just rather stay in Mexico, and the Mexican government has welcomed them with open arms.
“The Mexican government has been phenomenal in wanting to help,” he said.
Though some might stay in Mexico, Arabo is still working to bring others here that still want to come to the U.S.
“Let’s do what Americans always do which is open our hearts, our minds, our doors to the victims, the victims of genocide,” he said.
Since he began his efforts, Arabo said his foundation has been able to save more than 1,000 refugees, most of whom are now in Mexico. But the work goes on and if you’d like to help, you can go to his foundation’s website to make a donation. It’s at mhfoundation.org