February 27, 2018 In The News, Media

McClatchy DC: A Texas Democrat invites Syrian refugees to Donald Trump’s congressional speech

The first weeks of Donald Trump’s administration saw widespread protests after the president announced a temporary ban on immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries.

Now Fort Worth Democratic Rep. Marc Veasey is bringing a family of Dallas-area Syrian refugees to Washington in a show of defiance toward the president and his proposed executive order.

Tamam Al Sharaa and Bothina Matar brought their family to the United States in 2015 after enduring the chaos in Syria, and they will attend Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress as guests of Veasey on Tuesday.

Al Sharaa and Matar would not be allowed into the United States if Trump’s order were implemented.

“It is beyond shameful that Republican elected officials and our president want to slam the door on refugees escaping violence,” Veasey said in a statement.

Al Sharaa and Matar left Syria in 2013 after being threatened with violence if they did not join the Syrian army. The pair, along with their children and Al Sharaa’s father, spent two years in Jordan, where they could not legally work, before immigrating to the United States.

The family worked closely with the International Rescue Committee, which settled them into a North Dallas neighborhood in Veasey’s district after 18 months of waiting. The committee helps refugees find affordable housing, food and health care around the country. Al Sharaa found work as an HVAC technician in Dallas while Matar works at a textile company.

Veasey said last week that he wasn’t sure he would attend Trump’s first address to Congress, but he has now changed his mind.

“We can maintain America’s humanitarian leadership while keeping our nation safe, and Tamam and Bothina’s story highlights the positive result when we uphold both these ideals,” Veasey said. “Refugees like Tamam and Bothina are examples of the hope and contributions immigrants bring to their new homes.”

After Trump announced his executive order in January, the five Texans who represent Tarrant County in Congress voiced their support or were silent over the measure and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an amicus brief in support of the order, making Texas the first state to officially support the action that was eventually overturned in court.

Trump is expected to sign a new immigration-related executive order Wednesday, according to multiple reports.