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First Syrians leave for U.S. under surge resettlement program

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    The first Syrian family to be resettled to the U.S. under its speeded-up “surge operation” departed to the United States Wednesday from the Jordanian capital, Amman.

AMMAN, Jordan >> The first Syrian family to be resettled in the U.S. under a speeded-up “surge operation” for refugees left Jordan on Wednesday for Kansas City, Missouri, to start a new life.

Ahmad al-Abboud, who is being resettled with his wife and five children, said he is thankful to Jordan, where he has lived for three years after fleeing Syria’s civil war. But the 45-year-old from Homs, Syria, said he was ready to build a better life in the U.S.

“I’m happy. America is the country of freedom and democracy, there are jobs opportunities, there is good education, and we are looking forward to having a good life over there,” al-Abboud said.

They have been living in Mafraq, north of Amman. Al-Abboud was unable to find work, and the family was surviving on food coupons.

“I am ready to integrate in the U.S. and start a new life,” he told The Associated Press in Amman’s airport before the family boarded a flight to Kansas City.

Al-Abboud said he wanted to learn English and find a job to support his family.

Since October, 1,000 Syrian refugees have moved to the U.S. from Jordan. President Barack Obama has set a target of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees by Sept. 30.

A resettlement center opened in Amman in February to help meet that goal, and about 600 people are interviewed every day at the center.

The temporary processing center will run until April 28, said U.S. Ambassador Alice Wells, who was at the airport to see the al-Abboud family depart.

Gina Kassem, the regional refugee coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, said that while the target of 10,000 applies to Syrian refugees living around the world, most will be resettled from Jordan.

“The 10,000 (figure) is a floor and not a ceiling, and it is possible to increase the number,” Kassem told reporters.

While the resettlement process usually takes 18 to 24 months, the surge operation will reduce the time to three months, Kassem said.

The U.N. Refugee Agency prioritizes the most vulnerable cases for resettlement, and refers them to the U.S. to review, Kassem said. The priority is given to high-risk groups such as unaccompanied minors and victims of torture and gender-based violence, she said.

“We do not have exclusions or look for families with certain education background, language skills or other socio-economic factors, and we do not cut family sizes,” she said.

Jordan hosts about 635,000 of the more than 4.7 million Syrians who have registered with the U.N. refugee agency after fleeing the war. The total number of Syrians in Jordan is more than 1.2 million, including those who arrived before the conflict began in 2011.

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  • Wow, taking care of the world problem and not cleaning up their own back yard. What about our homeless and unemployed? Who going too pay for theses people housing, daily meals, medical and clothing on their back? The taxpayers? What is this country thinking?

    • Bring in the Millions of refugees, we need to prop up or Social Security pyramid system. I’m retiring and with no retirement plan will have to live on SS benefits. So come one come All, terrorists or not can donate to the system

      • The Arab- Muslim Middle East is emptying their overpopulation into the West – USA and Europe. We will get the same problems they collectively created in their homelands. Horrible!

    • Don’t worry, our dearly elected politicians in HI are already brewing bright ideas on how to fill ridership quotas on their new $150 billion dollar bullet choo-choo train. They figure it’s a brilliant idea to help maintain daily maintenance costs and artificially inflate the ridership participation numbers by having the cops force sweep the homeless and thousands of unemployed Syrians onto the train where they can ride all day long from a location where no one lives to a location where no one really commutes to.

    • Isolationism doesn’t work. We are a country of immigrants. BTW, the homeless and unemployed you are talking about are already US citizens.

        • True. While I can’t cite to any actual numbers, I would still venture a guess that it’s a super majority.

      • No one wants to isolate the US but there’s no way to properly vet any of these middle eastern people. We can only hope none of them harbor hidden muslim extremists views and use this opportunity to attack America from within.
        Once again Obama has overreached his authority and made a highly controversial decision that could affect national security without even a consensus in Congress, much less a majority. He apparently thinks he’s King Obama and can act on any issue by executive order.

  • Will Hawaii get their “fair share”???? They should go to the States that strongly supported Obama which are the Union/Welfare states. Makes sense.

  • The Arab Muslims have been trying to invade, conquer and enslave Europe for 1400 years.

    “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within”

    • As far as enslaving Europe, those Muslim in DUbai just hire them as nannies or house help,butler,chauffeur etc.etc. No need to go on Continental invasions! It’s to hot out there.

      • No.

        When Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 311, it gave legal protection to Christianity, as well as all other religions. It stopped the persecution of Christians.

        From what I read, Constantine was involved in fights within the existing Roman Empire, but was not involved in expansion, and certainly not in company with forced conversions.

        Both Christianity and Islam are expansionist, but Christianity requires repentance and a change of heart. It is cannot be truly spread by the the threat of violence and subjugation.

        • I respectfully beg to differ in that Constantine did expand the RE in all directions. Also, I get what you’re saying about the differences in expansion. I will defer as I don’t know enough about the true nature of either religions’ expansionist ideals.

          That being said though, haven’t most nations throughout history been expansionist? Manifest destiny and all of that.

        • I’ve never heard of christians forcing anyone to convert, now or ever. That is a tactic used exclusively by Sunni Muslims with extremists views.

        • Ok, but that still doesn’t account for the fact that horrible atrocities have been committed in the name of expansion, without a religious reason…again, manifest destiny

  • “The priority is given to high-risk groups ”

    If you mean at high risk of persecution, then it seems patently false. Why are there no Christians, Yazidis, or Jews?

    In fact, I heard some Iraqi Christians who tried to come in to the country were expelled.

    And they all seem to be sent to the “heartland” of America – Minnesota, Kansas, and Maine.

    In the words of you know who, we need to stop all this until we figure out what the “heck” is going on.

    • The Iraqi Christians (how would you figure out what religion they are?) you are referring to crossed illegally into the United States from Mexico. So you favor the wall on the border except for Iraqi Christians? Got it! “I love the poorly educated!” Go Trump!

  • These refugees see this opportunity like they just won a power ball lottery, while the xenophobic Trump supporters see this as a sign of the apocalypse. Reminds me of that song There Goes The Neighborhood by Body Count.

  • The ignorant and uninformed will of course lie about “millions” of refugees resettling here. The early estimate was something like 120 of these abused people (a typical load on a single Alaska Airlines flight here) will end up in Hawai’i. These people just want to escape the violence and torture of their homeland. I hope they are welcomed to the United States by people much smarter (not a high bar, unfortunately) and less sociopathic than many of the commenters here.

      • You must have been thinking for quite a while to come up with that brilliance. No one is asking any families to take in refugees – unless the relations in the United States are the sponsor. You really need to read more. A lot more. “I love the poorly educated!” Go Trump!

  • Native Americans, Asians/Orientals, Europeans, and then the New Americans, Latinos, Polynesians, as well as many other Cultures fought to defend their Countries to maintain their Cultures and their Freedoms… Why can’t Mid-Eastern Muslims? Why are they fleeing, instead of defending their own Countries–even if it means dying? Since time immemorial many other’s have (“To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune, Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles, And by opposing end them:”..) I don’t think THE USA should be involved in some other country’s Civil War, sacrificing American lives for COWARDS.

      • SPECIFICALLY: What have you done for the “children” of Hawaii or, for that matter–“children” anywhere? Hiding behind the guise of “children” is so politically correct, yet you don’t actualize your sympathies, per se. And, moreover, it has nothing really to do with the fact that THE USA should not be sacrificing it’s duty to it’s “children” and enter in to a Foreign Religious Civil War. Drive down your local streets and tell me if it’s O.K. to let The Homeless children in Hawaii live in squalor; or, for that matter The Homeless and Starving “children” in America… You’re just hiding from your own bigotries and realities! You only use the term “children” as you’re own SCAPEGOAT. You’re a FRAUD! ..oh, but so “POLITICALLY CORRECT”.., and oh–so “TRENDY”…

      • Yea but they didn’t strap bombs to their *ss and walk into airports and rail stations to blow up innocent people.I’m sure many more Americans willing to host Syrians refugees if it was possible to guarantee that would not happen. Unfortunately, that is not possible according to the FBI Director and DHS Director. Obama’s decision to ignore his own appointees advice in this matter defies logic and begs the question of where his loyalties truly lie.

        • There is a difference between refugees and terrorists/soldiers hiding in the crowd. Of course, it’s not possible to identify all “bad guys”. Can you please tell us all what in this world is 100% guaranteed, besides death and taxes that is.

  • Welcome to America. Like many that came from Europe and jolly old England, work hard,and keep your heritage. The Native Americans welcome you.

    • I don’t think it is that simple.

      When I read the Koran, I was surprised to find how much of it came straight out of the Old Testament.

      I also felt that if the world lived according to its morality, it would be a better place.

      But I also saw there were problems.

      1) Non-Muslims are required to convert or pay a tax. And the tax option only applies to Christians and Jews. The others, like today’s Yazidi, are in real trouble.

      2) If you behave and do good deeds you go to heaven. But since we all sin, you have to depend on God’s mercy. This leaves you insecure, with no firm assurance.
      But there is an escape: if you die a martyr in defense of the faith, you go straight to heaven. We see today what this can lead to

      So strictly comparing these immigrants to other groups, who do not have these potentially dangerous options in their belief system, is mistaken.

    • I believed he said that Hawaii can accommodate 100 refuges from Syria. What a good Samaritan. He is demonstrating innovation, leadership, and humanity. He is not only capable of dealing with Hawaii’s Local and State crises, but he is capable of working with World leaders to tackle the global crises on a larger scale. This Okinawan has my vote for re-election when I am up and out of here. lol

  • Obama didn’t create this problem, the out of control liberals created him and we allowed him to do this. We really can vet these refugees right? We have the data base to make sure ISIS isn’t hiding among the innocent right? The liberals think they are so self righteous but what happens if we have a terrorist attack that kills hundreds or thousands of Americans and they came from Obama’s folly, will they feel responsible? Nope, they probably will blame Bush, like they always do.

    • Just think if Native Americans vetted those “pillgrims”. Really? Land taken,buffalo’s taken, oh and the massacres. All within a hundred years of “settlement”.

    • Yup, I will feel responsible. And what if any of these immigrants do good things for our society, will you accept that you were wrong?

  • I wonder if our clueless governor Ige will invite them to relocate to Hawaii…..as if we didn’t have enough problems of our own…

  • He is married and has five children, another welfare case has landed. I wonder what his skills and education are, was he a goat herder or an engineer. I don’t think it matters, still on welfare and will find out with about 50 percent of Americans why work.

  • How sad that we have become so small and so afraid. Of course, I speak as a granddaughter of immigrants who came to the U.S. (My husband’s grandparents were also immigrants.) And, yes, there has always been demeaning comments and the worst-paying jobs (like our grandparents working in the coal mines). Regardless of your nationality and religion there are always those who don’t want “the other” and seem to feel better by trying to make others feel less. We are a country truly blessed – my prayer is that we continue to use our lives and our blessings to help others.

    • People also need to help themselves. One way would be to stop making babies when you reach your forties and are running for your life, as the story and photograph seems to imply. Compassion is wonderful, but people and nations need to use common sense.

      • I do agree with you that people need to be as self sufficient as they can be but will also admit that in my own life there are times I have failed to do so and, perhaps, not used the best judgment (e.g., made incorrect or bad decisions). I cannot judge him or his wife and just wish them the best in resettling in our country. I do have friends who are working with the refugees in Europe. While some of what you see in the media is correct (problems) there are many “good” stories (not perhaps being seen) about families who are welcoming and families who are resettling. Thank God that in our country we have never (other than our own Civil War) had to encounter what these people (with their children) have had to suffer. God bless and thanks for your response.

    • You do understand that Muslim immigrants represent a greater risk to the homeland than all other immigrants that came before them right? America has never encountered immigrants that stage religiously inspired attacks on their host country like France and Belgium recently experienced.
      The world has changed and our immigration policies must keep pace with the risks posed by muslim immigrants. If we can’t properly vet them, and we can’t – we shouldn’t let them in. It’s plain and simple common sense.

      • I believe current predictions are that you are more likely to be injured by a home-grown terrorist than an immigrant. These attacks are not religiously inspired – they are political and religion is a front (just like the IRA was not Catholics but Catholics subverting religion for political/power purposes). And, although Catholic, yes, I have read the Quran (and studied it as part of a class in World Religions). Additionally, from what I have read, we do have an increased vetting process for these immigrants -even more so than previous immigrants. The threat (just like France and Belgium) will come from within. Believe Timothy McVey opened our eyes to that…

  • this is a dumb idea what about all the people that are on a waiting list to enter this country the right way, now have to wait maybe years before they can come fell sorry for my co-worker who is a U.S. citizen and is waiting to bring her mother-in law down here the legal way, the president is very unfair to this country.

    • Can you please tell us for how long the entries noted in the story have delayed others’ entrance into the country? Do you think people fleeing from war or religious and or political persecution should be given different consideration?

  • Many Americans are too lazy to work or think they are above doing what you have to do to support themselves. They end up homeless, protesting, stealing and whining. They are leaving the door wide open for immigrants who don’t care what kind of a job it is. Sounds familiar? Just a generation or two ago.

  • How exactly did Republicans become such sniveling cowards? It’s pathetic that adults could be made to shiver about abused and tortured people that are relocating to the United States. Republicans need to stop selling fear to their poorly educated base.

    • Tell that to Belgium, they took in thousands of Muslim immigrants over the last 30 years who never fully integrated in society and are now attacking them from within. You think that can’t happen here? As usual, you’re wrong.

  • Refugees should be allowed in on a temporary basis and placed in refugee camps. They supposedly are escaping their country to avoid persecution by the terrorist groups. Once the fighting stops and their country becomes relatively stable, the refugees should be returned to their country.

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