Two refugee families arrive in Cleveland, ready to start new lives in America

Posted at 4:03 PM, Feb 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-10 17:38:33-05

The first refugees to make it to Cleveland since President Trump's travel ban was blocked by federal judges are getting settled in their new homes. 

News 5 was there when two families arrived at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, ready to start their new lives in America. 

The families were originally supposed to arrive at the end of January. 

But President Trump's executive order stopped the parents and children in their tracks. 

"There was definitely a huge panic," said Leena Zahra of Us Together, a refugee resettlement agency in Cleveland Heights.

"We are happy," one of the Iraqi refugees declared at the airport. 

It took a lot of work to get them here.

"Writing Congress people, marching outside, coming to the airport and fighting for the rights of refugees to come," said Danielle Drake of Us Together. 

News 5 was invited into the new home of one of the refugee families on the west side. 

The family, which fled Aleppo, Syria, lived in a refugee camp in Turkey for nearly four years. 

"The children are very happy, such a relief to see them with smiles on their faces," said Abtulsam Nayef, a father of 4. 

He said when he heard about the travel ban just days before his family was set to leave for America he lost hope.

"Thankfully, thank God to the American people who made it possible for us to come here, and bring that hope back alive again."

It didn't take long for 6-year-old Mohamet to find his new toys. 

"I really like the house. It's a lot to ask for and everything is here, so I really like it," he told News 5.

"To anyone who helped me and welcomed to my family and I in any sort of way — the city of Cleveland or outside of the city of Cleveland — we really want to thank them," said Nayef.

Donations from the community are giving refugees a strong start.

Us Together says they are still in need of toiletries and non-perishable food.