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With Travel Ban Blocked, Syrian Refugees Arrive In New York To Start A New Life

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

For the moment, the president's travel ban for refugees and people from seven majority Muslim nations is blocked by a court, so Syrian refugees are coming to the United States. One family arrived yesterday at New York's JFK Airport and spoke with Charles Lane of our member station WSHU at you.

CHARLES LANE, BYLINE: Rafiq al-Saleh paced in circles around his family in the arrival terminal. He was tired, but as he explains through an interpreter, he's excited to see New York.

RAFIQ AL-SALEH: (Foreign language spoken).

UNIDENTIFIED INTERPRETER: They waited very long in Istanbul because they didn't know about their travel arrangements.

LANE: Saleh's oldest son slumped into his duffel bag asleep while his infant daughter twisted in the lap of his wife, Ghada.

How do you feel?

GHADA AL-SALEH: (Through interpreter) Good. Now I'm - only now I'm happy and comfortable.

LANE: Ghada says she's most excited for her children.

G. SALEH: My kids - if they're here, they get the citizenship, and they're able to actually achieve things and go to school and dream bigger.

LANE: The Salehs understand wanting to keep refugees out. They felt it in Jordan after they fled Syria. But Rafiq says the ban on travel from certain Muslim countries is a mistake.

R. SALEH: (Through interpreter) It increases hate and intolerance, and it will result in more extremism because the extremists will find that as a justification to increase their extremism and hate.

LANE: They're headed for a new home in Syracuse, arranged for them by a U.N. agency. Rafiq has seen pictures. He's impressed most by the houses. They're separate, he says, and private. For NPR News, I'm Charles Lane in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.