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'This Is What I Expected Of The American People': Syrian Refugees Reunite With Family At O'Hare

By Jen Chung in News on Feb 8, 2017 3:35PM

As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit weighs President Trump's attempt to have his travel ban reinstated, a Syrian family was finally reunited last night at O'Hare International Airport. After she, her husband and their baby daughter emerged at the arrivals area to cheers, Baraa Haj Khalaf told reporters, "This is what I expected of the American people."

Baraa Khalaf, a literature major, and her husband, Abdulmajeed, an accountant, were originally supposed to arrive on January 27—the day Trump signed an executive order prohibiting foreigners from seven Muslim majority nations (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen) from entering the U.S. The order sparked protests at airports across the country as well as multiple court challenges. Baraa Khalaf's parents and siblings managed to flee Syria last year, but, in spite of being approved for resettlement, paperworks errors stalled her, her husband and their daughter's departure.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Baraa discussed the ban: "We felt like our whole dream just disappeared. But when we saw people rallying on our behalf, we were really inspired." She added, "We are excited to have our daughter grow up here. She will know the beautiful people and she will become a doctor."

The family is now living in Skokie, where Baraa Haj Khalaf's parents and siblings also lived. Her brother Mohammad Haj Khalif told the Wall Street Journal that adjusting was hard at first, but the family is meeting other refugees and neighbors as well as taking English classes. He said, "So many people have supported us and helped us and made us feel welcome. We’ve come to see even a smile as a gesture of help."