In September, concerned community members in Spartanburg held town hall meetings and spoke out at a Spartanburg County council meeting about refugees relocating in the Upstate. Many people felt refugees were dangerous and could pose a security threat here in the Upstate.
Refugee resettlement organization World Relief told the community that refugees go through a 13 step screening process and many refugees were coming to the U.S. to escape religious persecution. The organization told 7 On Your Side about the Kapasi family in Spartanburg.
The Kapasi family spoke with 7 On Your Side, saying that they felt excepted in the community and that Spartanburg was welcoming to their family and their business.
Court records from 1990 show Husein Kapasi, who came to Spartanburg in the 70’s, hired an undercover Lauren’s Police Officer to murder his daughter-in-law. The records show Mr. Kapasi’s son Mustin married in 1984.
The documents show Mr. Kapasi and his daughter-in-law didn’t agree on what he perceived as a western attitude. Mr. Kapasi was fearful of westernization and dilution of what he believed were strict Muslim cultural beliefs.
Specifically, Husein took issue with his daughter-in-law wearing western clothes, having a job outside the home or Islamic community, eating lunch with male companions that were not her husband and asking her mother-in-law to move to the U.S to help with the birth of her child.
Husein Kapasi was charged with Solicitation to Commit Murder, pleaded no contest and spent one year in jail. Mustin, his son, chose to speak with us on his father’s behalf.
“My father was thinking about coming today on his behalf but I thought he’s 75 years old, he has nothing to prove to anyone about how nice of a guy he is. He has enough very good friends and they can tell you how nice of a guy he is,” said Mustin Kapasi.
Mustin told us his wife did not want to relive the situation. He said she now has a good relationship with her father-in-law and many people from the community thanked them for telling their story.
We asked Mustin Kapasi if he felt like his family was a threat to the Spartanburg community.
“Of course not. Our family loves Spartanburg. People in Spartanburg love our family. Me my brother, my brother’s kids, we’ve all grown up here in Spartanburg.” He continued saying, ” If someone thought we were a threat to someone I don’t think we’d be here, I don’t think they’d except us,” he said.
We asked Mustin if he could understand why the community thought his family was a security threat.
“No, Not really, I don’t want to be ignorant about it but it was 25 years ago and it was a family issue and that thing has been long resolved. My father and my wife get along so well, in fact sometimes better than my wife and I do. Everyone has a past. Everyone has done something in their life they’re not happy with. I have. You get over it and you learn from it,” he said.
As an organization bringing refugees to the Upstate, we asked World Relief if the Kapasi family was a reason why the community should be threatened by refugees.
Director Jason Lee said he doesn’t believe this instance is an example of the kind of people his organization will relocate to the Upstate.
“No I think if you look at the program as a whole and under it’s current context history, in 1980 well over 3 million refugees have been resettled in the U.S. through the refugee resettlement program and none of those that came through the process have ever been arrested, convicted and sentenced of committing terrorist attacks on U.S. soil,” Lee said.
Lee said in Spartanburg and Greenville there are thousands of relocated refugees that call this area home. We asked about a local threat from relocated refugees, specifically in Spartanburg.
No I don’t think so I think we are in the land of the free, home of the brave and when you’re searching for religious freedom, Christian or Muslim or a Buddhist or agnostic or atheist, its always been a stronghold of our country. Were an evangelical organization and believe what we’re doing is a biblical call to do it but we don’t think it’s represented by all refugees,” Lee said.
For more informaiton about how refugees are screened before entering the U.S. click here for a link to the State Department website.
This link will provide more on the refugee admissions program.