Jewish refugee group helps reunite Syrian family following Trump immigration order


(JTA) — A Syrian family was reunited with help from the resettlement agency HIAS after the mother and her two daughters were temporarily prevented from traveling to the United States by President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

Razan Alghandour and daughters, Hanan, 8, and Lian, 5, were reunited Thursday with their husband and 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 order on Jan. 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 U.S.,” 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.”

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.”

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