Refugee family set to arrive in Delaware stuck in limbo

Religious leaders hosted an interfaith service in response to President Trump's

Religious leaders hosted an interfaith service in response to President Trump's "travel ban." (Courtesy of Van Shea Sedita).

Refugees ready to resettle in Delaware are now in limbo, following President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigrants and refugees. 

Syrian couple Muhamad Amin Hasan Hussain, 29, and Samira Mohamed Nedal Ammahal, 28, and their 6-month-old baby Maha, were set to arrive in Delaware as refugees next week.

The Red Clay Presbyterian Church in Wilmington and the Islamic Society of Delaware were co-hosting the young family with help from Jewish Family Services, which helps run refugee and immigrant services in the state.

The family had gone through the refugee process, and an apartment, transportation, food, clothing and employment opportunities were being arranged by the three organizations helping them.

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“Jesus Christ was born a refugee, and throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament we read stories of communities of people being chased from their homes and into difficult circumstances; and we’re reminded throughout Scripture to not abandon those folks, and calls us to come alongside to offer relief,” said Rev. Nate Phillips, pastor of Red Clay Presbyterian.

But the family’s plans to start a new life outside of a refugee camp was turned upside down when President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday banning entry of individuals from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days, refugees for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely.

In response, the three organizations helping the family held an interfaith service as a demonstration of a nation that thrives on diversity and equality. The service, at the Islamic Society of Delaware in Newark, was attended by several political leaders in Delaware.

Now, political leaders are working to overturn the order, and faith leaders are praying the family will be able to settle in the state.

“This work can bring us together, and it has. I was so moved to see these three different faith communities come together so quickly, and with such good energy to work on this positive thing,” Phillips said. “We hear a lot about risk, and I think about the risk we take when we don’t involve ourselves in relationships with those unlike ourselves. That to me, is what’s in my heart right now.”

U.S. Senator Chris Coons, D-Delaware, grew up in Phillips’ church. His mother, a parishioner there, suggested the church host refugee families. Coons, now, is co-sponsoring a bill to prevent the executive order, which he calls “unconstitutional” and “un-American.”

The legislation would withhold funding that enforces the executive order and declare it illegal based on the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which banned discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin. 

Thousands of individuals around the world protested the executive order, which caused the detainment of more than a hundred individuals at airports.

None of the individuals who have carried out terrorist attacks in the U.S. were from the seven countries on the list — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Coons also added that refugees who enter the U.S. already go through a thorough vetting process.

“This is an attempt by President Trump to fulfil his Muslim ban promise from the campaign. It is not a responsible effort to make us safer and stronger,” Coons said. “It has already enraged a number of our key allies in the fight against ISIS, it has drawn criticism and questions from a number of Republican senators, and I call on President Trump to rethink this executive order and recraft it in a way that might actually make us safer.”

Phillips said he holds on to hope that he and others will still be able to welcome the family from Syria.

“I’m still not at the place where I’m saying, ‘They’re not coming.’ I still have this hope we can do something. I’m not going to let it go. There’s just part of me that says, ‘I’m going to meet these people,’” he said. “We’re going to use every avenue we can to keep a little hope alive. I don’t live in that political world and can’t make anything happen, but I’m going to continue to pray something will.”

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