Refugee in LA Fears Terror Acts Will Delay Reunion With Family - NBC 7 San Diego
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Refugee in LA Fears Terror Acts Will Delay Reunion With Family

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Syrian Refugees Hope Derails After Terror Attacks

    He escaped from Syria and made it to Southern California. But left his family behind. We'll take you inside his struggle for asylum. John Cádiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. (Published Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015)

    Mohamad Bassam Aljazairi says he is no terrorist; he says he has never been involved in any terror activity.

    He says he's just a dad and a husband who wants to have his family with him - safe, in the United States.

    Aljazairi says he came to the U.S. in December, 2012 and within a month filed for asylum as a Syrian refugee. He had left his wife and two young daughters in Jordan, after fleeing what he describes as unexplainable persecution in his homeland.

    "I had to leave," he says. "My safety and my family's safety is not guaranteed there anymore."

    Aljazairi says he was a vocal critic on social media about the Assad regime, something he says landed him in prison for 44 days - tortured - until he could escape.

    "I was persecuted because of my opinions," he says.

    Aljazairi says a month after he applied for asylum with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS), he had an interview at an office in Anaheim. From that point, he says he checked in with the USCIS every other week, asking about the status of his asylum, having been told it would be approved or denied within six months. But it wasn't until he reached out to local congressmen that he started to hear any movement on his case. And in August of 2015, he received a letter that may have explained the hold-up:

    "Please be aware that your case has been removed from the Terrorist-Related Inadmissibility Hold," he read.

    But in light of the Paris terror attacks and the deadly shooting in San Bernardino, Aljazairi worries that his wait will continue to be on hold, considering his Muslim faith and his Syrian background.

    However, he says he's confused as to why it's taking so long, considering he worked at LAX for more than a year.

    "Probably they need more time to run my background check and immigration," he says, "but at the same time, LAX, they hired me there as a customer service agent."

    Aljazairi says he would check in passengers for different international flights at the Tom Bradley Terminal.

    "I got the FBI clearance and the authorities of the airport found me trustworthy," he says, "and I got a badge and was able to move through the airport without security."

    These days Aljazairi teaches conversational Arabic at a cultural center near West LA, relying on video chat to communicate with his family, still in Jordan.

    "This is the society where I want my daughters to live," he says, adding that his view on the American dream has changed through this.

    "You realize that the American dream or the safe haven here is not the system," he says, "the American Dream is the friends you meet here."