Actor’s fight for Syrian refugees is personal

WASHINGTON — The Syrian refugee crisis is very personal for Oscar-winning actor F. Murray Abraham.

His father came to the U.S. during the 1920s famine in Syria. “About a hundred years ago, members of Congress welcomed my father as a young boy when he came here to escape starvation from Syria,” said Abraham, who stars on Showtime’s “Homeland.”

Abraham cried as he spoke about Syrian refugees at a congressional briefing at the Capitol Visitor Center hosted by the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, a coalition of faith-based organizations.

“The Syrian people are not to be feared,” he told the audience at the event titled “They Have Faces and Names: Fresh Approaches to the Syrian Refugee Crisis.”

Some people, Abraham said, have suggested that welcoming Syrians into the U.S. is a responsibility.

“I say it’s our privilege,” he said.

Members of Congress who turned out to show their support for Syrian refugees included Democratic Reps. Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois, David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Zoe Lofgren of California.

“We’re going to continue to work. And I have to say, we’re going to stand up for Syrian refugees in this country because it is who we are as a nation,” Gutierrez said.