Syrian refugees make a new life in New Jersey

- It took years for Hussam Al Roustom to have a front door to open. Hussam and his family are Syrian refugees and had been fleeing for four years before they came to America.  He says that in 2011, life was good. He owned his own supermarket. Then the government started arresting people and shooting on the public, he says. So Hussam was forced to leave and paid a smuggler to take his family through the desert to Jordan.

Once they crossed the border, the Jordanian Army then took them to a refugee camp with no electricity, and no water -- just tents in the sand in the middle of the desert. Hussam's children kept getting sick.
His son Wesam, who has autism, was struggling. Hussam bounced around to different refugee camps, but in June, the U.S. government approved Hussam's application for refugee status. He says he had to go straight to the airport from the camp and didn't have time to say goodbye to his family in Jordan.

Hussam had a 15-hour flight to think about what was ahead. He was focused on ending his family's suffering.

That's when Mahmoud Mahmoud stepped in. He is the Jersey City director of Church World Service, one of 9 resettlement agencies that help refugees in the U.S. Mahmoud set up Hussam in a three-bedroom apartment. He has helped other families, too.

President Obama has promised to accept at least 10,000 more displaced refugees. Some are concerned about security risks, but aid groups that do this work say they are thoroughly vetted by Homeland Security, the NSA, and other intelligent agencies.

Hussam knows the process all too well. He shared his story with lawmakers in Congress to calm their fears. He and his family are adjusting to this new life. He is working the overnight shift at a bakery, and says it's just the start.
 

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