US warmly welcomes refugee families from Syria, Iraq after court upholds travel ban freeze

The refugee families from Syria and Iraq arrive in Cleveland, Ohio in the United States on Friday (Feb 10, 2017).VIDEO: YOUTUBE

Ten members of the first two refugees families admitted to the United States since federal courts halted President Donald Trump's travel ban have arrived here in the city where the Republican Party nominated Mr Trump as their candidate - and they were welcomed at the airport by two Jewish rabbis.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran the story of the arrival of the Al-Nuaimi family - three children and their mother from Iraq - and the Nayef's - four children and their parents from the war-torn city of Aleppo in Syria on page one of their Sunday (Feb 12) edition.

Photos and videos in the newspaper and the Cleveland.com website showed the warm welcome at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on Friday (Feb 10). The smiling women, bundled up against the cold weather and their heads covered modestly with scarves, received bouquets of flowers.

The two Northeast Ohio rabbis who greeted them were Mr Josh Caruso, wearing his yarmulka skull cap, and Ms Jordana Chernow Reader, both from the Anshe Chesed Fairmont Temple. Ms Chernow's son Julian, 7, wearing a knitted hat with the logo of his school's sports teams, warmly shook and then held hands with the arriving Muslim children.

"We want them to fulfil the same dream that our ancestors did when they came here," the Plain Dealer reported Mr Caruso, as saying. "We want to bring them in with warm smiles and let them know it's a safe place for them, and a welcoming place."

The families arrived after a hard-fought battle to bring them in by the Cleveland chapter of the US Together resettlement agency, the paper said. They had survived four years in a refugee camp in Turkey before being granted permission to settle here. They were on their way to Cleveland on Thursday (Feb 9), sweating out fears of being barred when they arrived. Mr Trump had banned refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries - Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan - but the families breathed a sigh of relief when a federal appeals court upheld a stay on that ban even as they were on their way to their new hometown.

The community relations director of US Together, Danielle Drake, told the Plain Dealer: "We've been fighting and protesting and writing letters and marching and calling and praying, and these are the first two families who have been able to come through," since the ban was lifted.

Their US Together caseworker, Ms Leena Zahara, added, according to the paper: "We can welcome these families. They have a place here, they want to contribute, they want to provide for their families and future generations.

Interpreters conveyed the gratitude of both families.

"We are very happy to be here," the Plain Dealer reported one of the women saying. "You can't be too tired, too down. You have a new home and a welcoming society."

She noted that one of their first goals was for her children to learn the language and "rebuilding their lives" she said.

One of the family members said: "We feel we are very lucky, and we feel safe here," and added, "We're all human. We're all creations of God."

To that, the Plain Dealer said everyone responded in unison with one word: "Amen."