2,647 of 4.5 million: Why is it so difficult for Syrian refugees to get into the U.S.?

ESPMI Network


‘We aren’t the kind of family that sends our daughters to work,’’ Mahmoud al-Haj Ali told me one evening this fall. He’d just returned to the family’s dingy second-floor apartment in Aurora, Ill., from the warehouse where he and his 19-year-old daughter, Sham, sorted boxes. At work, Mahmoud tried to keep her in sight. ‘‘I saw how tired she was,’’ he continued. ‘‘It’s more than she can take.’’ Sham’s English classes provided only a shaky foundation in the language, and she struggled to negotiate basic conversations. Mahmoud also spoke little English — we were sitting with an interpreter — but he could manage the essential.Mahmoud work tomorrow, Mahmoud no work tomorrow, he said in self-parody. But he, too, was tired. He rolled up his sweatpants to reveal a swollen leg. In Syria, Mahmoud, 57, who once owned a flourishing locksmith business in the Emirates, would have…

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