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.
“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.”
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.