Amid the political turmoil surrounding refugee resettlement in the US, the IRC in Silver Spring came together as an office on the night of February 7th to welcome a Syrian family of six resettling in the Washington, DC area. Around midnight, 12 staff members met at the arrivals gate at Regan National Airport to greet the new family. Members of the Tacoma Park Working Group and other area organizations also joined the unofficial welcome committee at the airport.
The case was the first to arrive at the Silver Spring office after a federal judge in Seattle ordered a nationwide stop to the Executive Order (EO) that banned refugees and Syrians from entering the country. Before the family’s arrival, staff members met to help set up their apartment. The flight was rescheduled with short notice and staff scrambled in the hours before the arrival to ensure the home was furnished, household items were purchased, and food was available for the family.
The gathering represented a triumphant moment for staff following more than a week of uncertainty after the EO was issued. The family’s travel to the US from Jordan was initially delayed due to weather and then cancelled outright after the ban. After years of waiting, extensive vetting, and formidable complications, the family doubted that they would ever make it to the US. Even after their flight was rescheduled, they were in disbelief until they cleared customs and stepped off their flight in DC. Now, the family is adjusting to their new life and cautiously exercising hope for the future. Soon the children in the family will enroll in school and the parents will participate in a cultural orientation course. Staff at the IRC in Silver Spring are thrilled to continue welcoming new refugee families and affirming that refugees of all nationalities and all religions are welcome in the Washington metro area.