Amid Travel Ban Fight, Syrian Family Starts Life In Atlanta | WABE 90.1 FM

Amid Travel Ban Fight, Syrian Family Starts Life In Atlanta

Mar 16, 2017

In late January, Hassan, his wife and his two young daughters were ready to start a new life across the globe in Atlanta. They’d been living in Jordan for about four years after Hassan and his wife fled Syria. Hassan didn't want to use his real name because of family members still living in Syria. 

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The family sold almost everything they had – their furniture, kitchenware. Their home was empty except for a few floor cushions they had planned to give to their neighbors. Hassan quit his job, and said he already retrained his replacement.

The family was ready to board a plane to the United States on Jan. 31. But on Jan. 27, President Donald Trump signed the first executive order halting refugee resettlement and barring travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. The family’s flight was canceled.

Thinking he was going to stay in Jordan for a while, Hassan said he re-bought some furniture and kitchen items. But he said he couldn’t work, because he was no longer authorized to work in Jordan.  

A federal judge in Washington temporarily halted the President’s order. About a week after their first flight was canceled, Hassan said they got a call early one morning that their flight would leave later that afternoon. The family tried to quickly get everything together to leave, and Hassan gave the key to their landlord.

The flight was canceled again.

“We were drained emotionally,” he said through an interpreter in Arabic. “We were very stressed and depressed.”

The third time the U.N. called about them flying to America, he said he wasn't convinced. But the family finally arrived in Atlanta on Feb. 8.

In the living room of their new home in the Atlanta area, Hassan's 3-year old daughter is watching Sesame Street. He said he’s glad they made it to the United States in time, and that his daughters are feeling comfortable here and less anxious. He said they feel relieved. 

“Praise God, it’s good,” he said through an interpreter.

Hassan said he wants to learn English and find a job soon.