HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Syrian Americans living in Houston are feeling the impact of anti-Syrian political rhetoric.
Bassam Barazi is grateful for the warm welcome he received more than 50 years ago when he arrived in the United States. He grew up in Hama, Syria, and came to the U.S. in the '60s in search of a great education. He studied civil engineering at UT Austin and moved to Houston shortly after graduation.
Yet even now, after decades of living in the states, he doesn't feel as welcomed as he did when he first arrived.
"I'm proud to be a Muslim and a Syrian, but yet I'm looked upon as somebody who could be associated with bad things," Barazi said.
Barazi said anti-Syrian statements from political leaders like Governor Abbott are extremely hurtful to Syrian families looking for refuge in the U.S.
"They're massacred and treated terribly over there, and they come outside trying to seek refuge and there they are being looked at as being terrorists as Syrians and terrorists as Muslims," Barazi said, "So we get it from all edges."
Barazi wants to emphasize the fact that most Muslims condemn violent extremism.
"The name Islam translates into peace," Barazi said.
Barazi said the Syrian families coming to the U.S. are looking to escape the very terrorists they're accused of being.
"Those people that finally come here, they go through all kind of processes. By the defense department, by the FBI, by the homeland security, by the special office of terrorism preventions," Barazi said.
About 100 Syrian refugees have settled in Harris County in the past year. Barazi hopes Texans will disregard the political banter and extend to Syrians the same welcome that he received decades ago.