“The first Syrian refugee family to be relocated to the United States under the Obama administration’s new rapid relocation program is grateful for the opportunity to rebuild their lives,” Kansas City, Missouri’s KMBC TV reported on April 11.
“Ahmad al-Abboud said, ‘God bless Kansas City,’ where he and his wife and five young children arrived just days ago,” KMBC’s Kelly Eckerman reported in a video news segment.
“Through an interpreter, he said he feels absolutely wonderful that his family has been safe since they arrived,” the report continued. “They had been living in a storage closet in Jordan with no windows and little food. They’d escaped to Jordan after fleeing the civil war in Syria, where al-Abboud had been injured in a bomb blast and needed medical treatment.”
The al-Abboud family flew in largely under the radar, with little national media attention. Apparently, that was the plan intended by the Obama State Department, which is understandably attempting to cater to fellow Democrat (and some Republican) incumbents and candidates who are not anxious to have this contentious issue raised conspicuously during this election season.
The first notice most journalists received of this breaking story was from a Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) blog post by Nayla Rush on April 8 entitled “How to Screen 600 Syrian Refugees a Day: A ‘Surge Operation.’”
The CIS was alerted to the new refugees by an article that appeared on April 7 in The Jordan Times. According to the Times story, the al-Abboud family represent the start of a new “surge operation” being kicked off by the Obama State Department. The Times noted that although 1,000 Syrians have been already resettled in the United States from Jordan, Alice G. Wells, the U.S. ambassador to Jordan, told the newspaper the seven-member al-Abbouds are “the first family to depart after having been granted refugee status by our US immigration officers during our three-month resettlement surge operation that began on February 1.” Last September, Ambassador Wells said, President Obama issued a directive ordering the admission of 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States by September 30, 2016.
Wells told reporters at a press conference in Amman, Jordan, that the al-Abboud family’s “new life in America ensures the children a safe and secure environment to live in, and where they will receive the medical attention that they require, the education opportunities that they need to grow, and share in the dignity that they deserve.”
Wells explained, said the Times, that the surge operation, which will process 10,000 refugees by April 28, is part of “our effort to reach President Obama’s directive to send 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States by September 30, 2016, while also ensuring that every refugee accepted by the United States has been thoroughly screened and vetted through our rigorous security process.”
The Jordan Times reported that the regional refugee coordinator at the U.S. embassy in Amman, Gina Kassem, said the number announced by the president is a global number, but the very vast majority will come out of Jordan. The 10,000 quota is a “floor and not a ceiling, and it is possible to increase the number,” she told the press during a tour of the refugee processing facility.
According to Kassem, 600 refugees are interviewed on the site every day. Again, that is six hundred per day.