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‘This Is What Makes America Great’: Syrian Refugees Get Chicago Welcome


LINCOLN SQUARE — The long journey to freedom for a family of Syrian refugees sponsored by a Lincoln Square group finally came to a happy ending Tuesday night.

The Haj Khalaf family — Baraa, her husband Abdulmajeed, and their 16-month-old daughter Sham — touched down at O’Hare airport in the early evening. They were reunited with Baraa’s parents and siblings, who were resettled in Skokie in Septemb

In recent weeks, refugees like the Haj Khalafs have been at the center of a national debate over the legality of executive orders signed by President Donald Trump, which banned travelers to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

The younger Haj Khalafs were stranded in Turkey, their visas canceled just days before they were set to join their family in Chicago. When a federal judge blocked Trump’s ban, the three were cleared to travel.

“We can hardly believe this is finally happening,” said Alisa Wartick, who led a group of nearly 40 Lincoln Square residents who sponsored the family.

The sponsors helped to furnish an apartment in Skokie, stocked the pantry and collected clothing and toys for the family. The will continue to assist the Haj Khalafs as they adjust to life in the U.S. Donations to support the family are being accepted online (click here).

Posting to Facebook, the sponsors expressed relief and gratitude: “Thank you to everyone for your support, prayers, positive thoughts and offers of help…. THIS is what makes America great.”

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