An executive order that bans Syrian refugees from entering the US will shatter and divide families, a Syrian family has told Al Jazeera.
US President Donald Trump says the order, which will suspend the US refugee programme for 120 days and ban Syrians until further notice, will help protect Americans from “terrorist” attacks.
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My brothers-in-law and cousins are still there. They're dying and no one is taking them in. No food, no medicine, their homes have been bombed, their shelters have been bombed and they have nowhere to go. Where can they go?
One Syrian family that has found refuge in the US state of California urged Trump to reconsider the ban and said it was an insurmountable obstacle for many Syrians seeking safety.
Bill Dalati told Al Jazeera: “My brothers-in-law and cousins are still there. They’re dying and no one is taking them in.
“No food, no medicine, their homes have been bombed, their shelters have been bombed and they have nowhere to go. Where can they go?”
His wife, Dalal Alia, said Trump’s comments had left her feeling more helpless than ever.
“I need to save them but they’re not letting me.
“Every day I wake up and I’m afraid to pick up the phone and to hear ‘Oh, you lost a brother’, or ‘Oh, you lost a sister’, or ‘You lost someone.’ I can’t do it any more.”
The order, which has drawn the ire of Democrats and civil rights groups, bans nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the US.
Despite none of the perpetrators of any major US attack coming from these majority-Muslim countries, the Trump administration insists that the order is not targeting Muslims.
On Friday, during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump said his administration would make helping persecuted Christians in the Middle East and North Africa a priority.
“They’ve been horribly treated,” Trump said, referring to Christians.
“Everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody, but more so the Christians, and I thought it was very, very unfair.”
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS) group overran large swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, before attacking religious minorities including Christians and Yazidis.
However, the vast majority of the armed group’s victims have been Muslim, particularly Shia Muslims, whom ISIL consider “deviant”.