Jewish group helps reunite Syrian family kept apart by Trump ban
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Jewish group helps reunite Syrian family kept apart by Trump ban

Refugee agency HIAS vows to work tirelessly to ensure Kassar family not the last refugees allowed entry into US

Fadi Kassar hugs his young daughters for the first time in over 2 years after his family was reunited at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, February 2, 2017. (Bill Swersey/HIAS)
Fadi Kassar hugs his young daughters for the first time in over 2 years after his family was reunited at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, February 2, 2017. (Bill Swersey/HIAS)

A Syrian family was reunited with help from a Jewish refugee agency after the mother and her two daughters were temporarily prevented from traveling to the United States by President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban.

Razan Alghandour and daughters — Hanan, 8, and Lian, 5 — were reunited Thursday with Razan’s husband and the girls’ father, Fadi Kassar, at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, the Hartford Courant reported.

Kassar had been granted asylum in the United States in 2015 and settled in Connecticut. His family was due to join him last month, but they were barred from boarding a connecting flight in Ukraine after Trump signed the executive order on January 27, forcing the family to return to a refugee camp in Jordan.

According to a statement from HIAS — the former Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a 135-year-old Jewish agency that assists refugees and asylum seekers — the group raised the family’s case with government officials and in the media, and had a lawyer on hand to greet the family at the airport.

Fadi Kassar hugs his young daughters for the first time in over 2 years after his family was reunited at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City on February 2, 2017. (Bill Swersey/HIAS)
Fadi Kassar hugging his daughters after his family was reunited at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, on February 2, 2017. (Bill Swersey/HIAS)

“Unfortunately, this is just one of thousands of cases of innocent people who have been wrongly denied entry to the US,” HIAS CEO Mark Hetfield said. “We believe these are the first Syrians to enter since the executive order was signed, and we are determined to make sure they are not the last.

“Moving forward, we will continue working tirelessly on as many cases of these as we can,” Hetfield said. “As the Talmud teaches us: ‘To save one life is to save the world.’”

Renee Redman, a New Haven-based immigration attorney who assisted the family, compared their plight to Jews fleeing the Nazis.

“It’s like the Holocaust,” Redman said, according to the Courant. “People are fleeing for their lives and are spread out all over the world, and this has made it even worse.”

Protestors rally at a demonstration against the new ban on immigration issued by President Donald Trump at Logan International Airport on January 28, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images/AFP)
Protesters rally at a demonstration against the new ban on immigration issued by US President Donald Trump at Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, January 28, 2017. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images/AFP)

Many noted with that the presidential executive order was signed on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, likening it to passengers of the MS St. Louis, a German ship filled with 937 Jewish refugees, who were denied entry into the United States, as well as Cuba and Canada, in 1939.

The Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International and the American Jewish Committee are among the organizations that have decried the travel ban.

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