Refugee Family Grateful To Resettle In U.S. Ahead Of Ban

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RUTLAND, Vt. (CBSMiami/AP) — A Syrian man whose refugee family was among the last to arrive in the United States before President Trump imposed a ban on new arrivals said he feels lucky to have arrived in Vermont.

Syrian refugee family of Ammar Kawkab (2/L) and his wife Leila (C), including their children Noor (L), Aya (R) and Hamza with his skateboard, pose in the living room where the flag of Kurdistan hangs on the wall of their apartment in San Diego on August 31, 2016. The United States has taken in10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016 as part of a resettlement program that has emerged as a hot-button issue in the US presidential campaign. / AFP / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian refugee family of Ammar Kawkab (2/L) and his wife Leila (C), including their children Noor (L), Aya (R) and Hamza with his skateboard, pose in the living room where the flag of Kurdistan hangs on the wall of their apartment in San Diego on August 31, 2016. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

In an interview with The Associated Press in his new home city of Rutland, Ahmed Khatib, 37, said he believed most Americans want to welcome more refugees.

Before fleeing Syria in 2012, Khatib and his family lived near Aleppo before they took a bus to Turkey where he and his wife, Mahasen Boshnaq, and their growing family lived as refugees until earlier this month.

Until Trump’s order, Rutland officials had been preparing for the arrival of between 25 and 30 families from Syrian and Iraq. Now, local officials believe the resettlement program has ended.

“I think this is extremely disappointing for Rutland,” said Rutland Board of Alderman President William Notte, who supported the resettlement effort.

In Turkey, Khatib, who was a sales person for a jewelry company in Syria and then a real estate agent, said he “worked everything,” including on livestock farms and in a clothing factory, to support his family.

Now, they are staying with a Rutland family until they can find a local apartment. Khatib said he looked forward to being self-sufficient. The oldest of his children is 5 and is getting ready for school. The younger children are 4 and 1.

Day by day they are settling in and Khatib has started talking with people about getting work. After studying agricultural technology in college in Syria, he hopes to finish his degree in the U.S.

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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