‘We are lucky to be here’: Members of Chicago’s Syrian community hopeful for new administration

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Members of Chicago’s Syrian community are looking back on the Trump administration’s travel ban on some Muslim countries.

Syrian refugees Wael Abbas and Samira Alhamwi had only been in the US for seven months when then-President Donald Trump signed the executive order banning travel from several mostly Muslim majority countries.

“Just to close the door without thinking about people they deserve to have a new life,” said Syrian refugee Wael Abbas.

Suzanne Akhras Sahloul, of the Syrian Community Network, was at O’Hare on Jan. 28, 2017 as a large crowd of protestors gathered outside of the international terminal.

“Thousands chanting ‘let them in, let them in, you know refugees are welcomed here,'” said Akhras Sahloul said.

Wael and Samira’s family was plunged into uncertainty. Other friends who were fleeing the Syrian War at the time had their dreams dashed.

“After the ban, for two years, we don’t know if we go outside, if we come back, it’s too confused,” Abbas said. “So we don’t meet our families for five years.”

The ban survived court challenges, though in a different form. But on Wednesday, hours after he was sworn in, President Biden repealed it.

“I think this will give more hope to all Syrian families,” said Alhamwi.

She said the Biden administration should be held accountable to deliver on promises to increase the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the US.


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