Syrian family delayed by ban finally arrives in New York

Mahmoud Khoja, his wife, and their six children fled Aleppo, Syria, for Turkey, driven from their homes by a violent and still ongoing civil war.

On Tuesday night, two and a half years after applying for refugee status, a little more than a month after receiving it, a few weeks after a phone call informing them the U.S. government had cancelled their journey to their new home and days after learning the legal system in this country would -- at least if they arrived soon -- once again welcome them, the Khojas landed in New York City to begin what Mahmoud called "their new life."

Pastor Andrew Stellik's congregation at Rutgers Presbyterian Church on the Upper West Side sponsored the Khoja family, found, leased and furnished an apartment for them in Union City, New Jersey, and retained legal representation in both Turkey and the United States to help the Khojas navigate the recent travel ban.

The Khojas shared no negative feelings about President Trump, the author of the ban that nearly left their family stranded after three years hoping and waiting in refugee limbo. Mahmoud said he hoped that Trump would be fair to them because they are decent people.

Mahmoud owned a grocery shop in Aleppo and worked as a tailor in Turkey. With the help of Rutgers Presbyterian, the Khojas plan to start learning English, find jobs and start making a living here in New York.