WORCESTER (CBS) – They moved into their humble Worcester apartment nine months ago. “This is the only hope for us,” said Afia Omar.
She and Mustafa Abdu escaped from Syria with their son and two daughters. They felt it was a miracle when they made it to Turkey, but that was just a stopping point.
The United States was their goal. If they had stayed, Omar says, they’d be dead by now. “All our neighbors, all our friends, they are dead now,” Omar says.
Abu explains why. “They are dying from either hunger, or shells, or killing,” he says.
For their daughter, 14-year-old Suza, being in Worcester is more than a dream. It’s the only option. “I will not go back to Syria,” she says.
They’re now coming to terms with the fact that they will probably not be reunited with their other daughter, who’s still in Turkey. President Trump’s order barring Syrian refugees from the United States indefinitely has dashed their hopes.
The Trump administration insists his executive order halting refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries is not a Muslim ban.
Other Muslim refugees say they do feel targeted. Mustafa Alnaimi, an engineering student who escaped from Iraq, says he stopped going to his mosque in Worcester, and only prays at home. “It’s not safe,” he says.
His friend, Mushtaq Alrkebaue, fled Iraq with his family after he was kidnapped. He worries about his relatives in other countries. “I have a brother in Jordan,” he says. “He’s been waiting for a long time to come here.”
The White House staff has said they’re considering extending the ban to other countries. Afia Omar hopes they’ll reconsider. “It feels like home,” she says. “We are peaceful people.”