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Syrian Refugees Due To Reunite With Family At O'Hare As Court Considers Ban

By Stephen Gossett in News on Feb 7, 2017 9:49PM

Protesters demonstrate against President Trump's immigration and refugee bans at O'Hare International Airport / Photo: Tyler LaRiviere

Three Syrian refugees—a couple and their 16-month-old daughter—who were kept from entering the United States and reuniting with family in Chicago last week, are finally due to arrive at O'Hare International Airport this evening. But their flight is scheduled to land in Chicago just hours after an appeals court is set to begin hearings on whether to reinstate Trump's immigration ban.

Baraa, a literature major, and her husband, Abdulmajeed, an accountant, were set to arrive in Chicago on Jan. 27, where they would join Baraa's parents and siblings, who also fled from war-torn Syria. Baraa's extended family arrived in the United States back in September 2016, but Baraa, her husband and child were kept back, even after being approved for resettlement, due to a paperwork error, according to RefugeeOne, the agency helping to resettle the family.

When the family was finally approved again, they sold all their belongings and departed a refugee camp—only to be held back yet again, this time by President Donald Trump's executive order that indefinitely barred Syrian refugees from entering the United States.

With the window at least briefly opened again, thanks to a ruling by a Washington state judge that suspends the ban. Now, the family is scheduled to arrive in Chicago less than an hour after the appeals court begins considering the immigration ban.

"We're hopeful that the family will be able to be reunited with the family that's already here," Jims Porter, communications director at RefugeeOne, told Chicagoist. "We're finding out with everybody else what will happen to the refugee resettlement program."

Other Chicago residents carry a heavy emotional investment in seeing Baraa, Abdulmajeed and their young child arrive safely in Chicago. Lincoln Square Moms, the family's co-sponsors will be on hand this evening at O'Hare to welcome the rest of the family. One of those co-sponsors, Alisa Wartick, posted a heart-ripping, quick-to-become-viral photo in late January of the empty crib intended for the family's 16-month-old shortly after she learned the family was not allowed entry yet again.

If all stays to plan, the bed will be filled on Tuesday night.

While the family and co-sponsors count down the hours to the planned reunion, Porter expressed debt of gratitude for the flood of support that RefugeeOne and those it assists have received in the wake of Trump's executive actions. "Particularly in light of the global migrant crisis and the ongoing civil war in Syria, it's such an important time to open our doors," Porter said. "At the same time, we're completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support."

"So many people have stood with refugees, and we’re incredibly grateful for that," he added.