December 18, 2015


Syrian who fled war only to arrive amid US refugee panic mystified by hostility (Tom Dart, 12/15/15, The Guardian)

Throughout the seven months it took Samer and his family to make their way from Syria to the United States, he told himself that the risk and cost would be worth it they could swap their war-ravaged homeland for what he believed was a "land of opportunity, hope and peace".

But the family's arrival in the US has proved more stressful than the journey: days after they reached Texas they found themselves the unwitting subject of a national debate over potential terrorist infiltration.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said that Samer, his wife and two sons - aged two and five - could be the embodiment of America's "worst nightmare". Donald Trump speculated that the family, who are Christian, could be members of Islamic State.

A month later, Samer and his family are still being held in indefinitely in separate detention centres - and his belief in America as a beacon for asylum seekers is dimming by the day.

"My very small children are in prison," said Samer, speaking by phone from an immigration detention centre near San Antonio. "I had no idea that the political climate was so against Syrian refugees. If I had known that it was so terrible here I wouldn't have brought my family."

In his first press interview, Samer said he was struggling to reconcile his perception of the US as a Christian nation of immigrants with his own predicament. Now he fears his family will not be released and reunited by Christmas.

Posted by at December 18, 2015 6:24 PM