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Syrian Family Makes Life In Indiana

Assaf At Home

Family is important to Abdul Sater Assaf. He is a Syrian refugee living in Indianapolis with his wife and two young children. Assaf and his family arrived less than two weeks ago. It was Assaf's dream to come to Indiana because his sister relocated here about a year ago.

To resettle in Indiana, Assaf's family received help from the Catholic Church and a program in Indianapolis that helps refugees, Catholic Charities.

Governor Mike Pence has been adamant that he wants a more stringent screening process for Syrian refugees in the wake of attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. For Assaf, that screening process lasted 14 months with six interviews lasting between two and four hours each. He said that he felt it was thorough.

After the Governor Pence announced his wish to suspend resettlement of refugees from Syria, a family was rerouted to Connecticut. When Assaf heard this, he decided that he would rather stay with his family in Jordan than move to a city other than Indianapolis. His plan was to reunite his family in the U.S.

The governor does not have the authority to deny entry to the refugees, and so Assaf was brought to live near his sister in Indiana despite the governor's statements.

Help With Resettlement

Assaf says people in Indiana have been very nice to him.

Last week, Epworth United Methodist Church in Indianapolis held a multi-faith event to show support to the Syrian refugees living in Indiana.

The ceremony featured introductions to the families, a candle lighting ceremony, and a reception with food prepared by a Syrian family. Governor Pence was invited to the event, but he declined citing a prior engagement.

What's Next

During our conversation, Assaf discussed his plans to rebuild his life in Indianapolis. He said he wants to support his family and is looking for a job.

In Syria, Assaf walked to work with his brothers, but he left when his daily routine became too dangerous. He said that gunfire would erupt as he made his walk to work, and civilians were caught in the crossfire.

Assaf understood he either had to quit going to work or accept that one day he might leave his house and never come back.

Assaf is hopeful that the other members of his family will join him next. He says that he would like to travel back to Syria if it is safe, but he knows Indianapolis is his new home.

For now, Assaf is waiting to hear if the rest of his family will be joining him in Indianapolis. One of his brothers living in Jordan will find out if he has passed the screening for resettlement in January.

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