Two little girls were not allowed to get on a plane to see their father in Connecticut for the first time in more than two years.
Their family in Milford said they were devastated from the fall out of President Donald Trump's executive order and travel ban. The president's executive order suspending immigration from seven Muslim majority countries including Syria.
"We're devastated,” Sam Karout said. “We did not expect that to happen."
Karout and his family actually were afraid a travel ban would be coming and actually paid extra money to move their flight up. The family only to got word while they were at the airport that there would be no reunion.
"He didn't sleep for two nights,” Sam Karout talking about his brother-in-law. “He was crying."
Karout said the past few days have been tough for his brother-in-law. His wife and two daughters, who are Karout's nieces, are from Syria. The 5-year-old and 8-year-old were supposed to be in Connecticut by now.
Instead the status of that family reunion is up in air, following Trump's travel ban late last week.
"They had their visas issued by the American embassy in Amman, Jordan,” Karout said. “They took the flight from Jordan to Kiev."
But once in the Ukraine, Karout said their passports were confiscated and they were not allowed to fly into John F. Kennedy International Airport.
"Their passports, were confiscated and they could not get clearance to take the flight to JFK,” Karout said.
Instead they had to return to Jordan where they had been living since fleeing Syria.
"I have three kids. They had already bought gifts for their cousins,” Karout said. “They were planning on going to JFK to meet them and I didn't have a logical explanation as to why they're not going. Why they're not coming?"
Renee Redman, who's an immigration attorney, helped Karout's brother-in-law when he was granted asylum a few years ago. Now, she's working to re-unite his family.
"I don't think the government knows whether it's going to be temporary or not. It didn't make any sense to begin with," Redman said. "We're already very detailed, lengthy and security background checks for people from those countries."
Karout, who's lived in America for 30 years and runs a middle eastern deli in Milford, said he's worried about the little girls, who were just a few hours from seeing their dad for the first time in more than two years.
"Imagine what those two little girls went through and imagine millions of other little boys and girls, just like them, who had in their minds, a place called America, a place that would welcome them, who would rescue them from the disaster that had become their lives,” U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy for Connecticut said.
On Monday night on the floor of the United States Senate, Murphy highlighted Karout’s nieces and the predicament they now find themselves in.
"They're back in their apartment, but they got rid of all their furniture, they got rid of all their clothes,” Murphy said. “Their neighbors have temporarily given them mattresses to sleep on. They don't even know where their suitcases are."
Karout said he has been in contact with Murphy and U.S. Congresswoman Rosa Delauro for Connecticut. He added he was thankful for their support.
"Senator Murphy's office and Rosa DeLauro's office are trying to intervene in that case to see if they can have the decision reversed because there does look like there is some room in the executive orders to have some decisions reversed," Redman said. "After that, yes, we probably will go to federal court."
As for what's next, Karout said he is hopeful.
"I've been here for 30 years this is the America I know, the America for human rights, freedom of speech, helping innocent, trying to distinguish between bad and good people in a logical way,” Karout said. "It’s tough, it’s tough, hopefully it will be resolved soon."
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