04/02/2017 10:00 AM AEDT | Updated 07/02/2017 3:35 AM AEDT

Syrian Family Reunites In U.S. After 2 Years Apart

Bill Swersey/
Fadi Kassar is all smiles after being reunited with his daughters Lian, 5, and Hnan, 8, and wife Razan for the first time in more than two years.

A Syrian refugee and her two children successfully made it into the U.S. this week against all odds ― namely the executive order that President Donald Trump signed last week to halt the arrival of refugees for 120 days.

Fadi Kassar and his family fled Syria for Jordan several years ago. Kassar was able to move to Milford, Connecticut, at the end of 2014 and claim asylum, said Mark Hetfield, the CEO of HIAS, a global Jewish nonprofit that resettles refugees.

Kassar, who had not seen his wife and children since he moved to the U.S., worked tirelessly to get them here under a family reunification program. They were among the 872 refugees approved to travel to the U.S. before Trump enacted his ban.

But on Saturday they weren’t allowed to board their flight to New York City and got stuck in Kiev, Ukraine, HIAS said in a statement.

The organization engaged in “intense, high-level efforts” to get Kassar’s wife, Razan, and their daughters, 8-year-old Hnan and 5-year-old Lian, to the U.S. safely. 

Bill Swersey/
The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that it would allow 872 refugees to enter the United States this week.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) even got involved after hearing about the story.

“My office is doing absolutely everything we can to bring Fadi Kassar’s wife and two girls to Milford,” a statement on his website said. This included wrangling with immigration lawyers, the U.S. State Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“We think these are the only Syrian people that have made it in since the ban was issued,” Hetfield said. “It’s just sad that there are thousands of people that aren’t allowed to come in.”

The State Department would not comment on whether additional refugees from Syria or the other six countries named in the order had been admitted this week, but merely reiterated that refugees could still be admitted during the 120-day suspension on a case-by-case basis.

“Pursuant to the exemption authority in the Executive Order, we expect about 900 refugees who were in transit when the Executive Order was released to complete their travel and be admitted to the United States during the week of January 30,” a State Department spokesperson said Thursday.

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