Immigrants celebrate World Refugee Day in El Cajon

EL CAJON, Calif. – Wednesday is World Refugee Day, an occasion observed around the globe. In San Diego, the day was celebrated at a small business in El Cajon.

“We opened this place here a year ago. It’s called Suri and Suri in Arabic means Syrian,” Abed Keddo said.

Keddo runs the place – a market and restaurant he opened when he saw a need to help fellow Syrians.

“There was a big influx of Syrian refugees that came to San Diego and they were looking for jobs and things to do and we came up with the idea of opening a little market,” Keddo said. “And we made it a business and we have about nine employees here. They’re all Syrian refugees. They came here in the last year or so.”

Keddo is an immigrant himself. He arrived in San Diego in 2006 after spending time in Nebraska and North Carolina.

“America is the land of opportunity and if you want to do something, nobody can stop you as long as it’s legal,” Keddo said.

To commemorate World Refugee Day, Keddo hosted the gathering put on by business owners who belong to Business For Good, a nonprofit organization comprised of people who believe in hiring immigrants and investing in them.

“Over the course of their time here, they end up contributing more through taxes, through purchasing power, than they take in assistance, which goes a little counter-intuitive to what some folks who are scared of immigrants and scared of refugees might tell you, but that’s the actual facts,” said Mikey Knab, a Business For Good member.

Knab said studies show on average, refugees will contribute about $21,000 more than they will take in public assistance over the course of 20 years.