Portlanders welcome refugee family as travel ban lifted

Mohammed family first to fly into PDX after court-ordered lift of travel ban

Dozen of Portlanders welcomed the Mohammed family who flew to PDX from Iraq on February 5, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An Iraqi family of 5 was greeted by a group of cheering supporters as they arrived at Portland International Airport Sunday night.

The Mohammeds were the first family to fly into PDX after a federal judge in Seattle blocked President Donald Trump’s travel ban on 7 Muslim-majority nations.

Muscafa, his wife Fatima and their daughters Aya, 10, Ruquaa, 8, and Janna, 3, were met with cheers, balloons and stuffed animals as dozens of Portlanders welcomed them home.

“I’m very appreciative,” Muscafa said. “When I arrived, I am very tired from the trip, but when I see the people I am very happy, I feel like I am in my home, really.”

Portlanders greeted the Mohammed family from Iraq with cheers, stuffed animals and balloons, February 5, 2017. (KOIN)
Portlanders greeted the Mohammed family from Iraq with cheers, stuffed animals and balloons, February 5, 2017. (KOIN)

But the Mohammeds’ journey to the U.S. wasn’t completely smooth. The family of 5 was ready to get on a plane Friday, but they were turned away.

“They gave up their work, they gave up their school, their car, their furniture, everything,” Fadaha, Muscafa’s cousin, said. “So they had to go back and stay about a week and a half in order to get here again.”

As soon as a Washington judge blocked the executive order, the American Civil Liberties Union, catholic charities and other support groups flew into action.

“There was a tremendous amount of excitement today because these organizations who had been trying to place these refugees all knew they could now get their families into the country,” ACLU of Oregon legal director Mat dos Santos said.

But it did come at a cost: $5,000 for the one-way flights.

“We had to pay for their tickets, and instead of the government paying for it, because we rushed it… I had to pay for it by myself,” Fadaha said.

Those who greeted the Mohammeds at PDX Sunday night said they hope other refugees coming into the country will get the same love and opportunity.

“I say thank you because that’s very great and American people are the greatest in the world,” Muscafa said. “Thank you, I appreciate everything.”

Dozen of Portlanders welcomed the Mohammed family who flew to PDX from Iraq on February 5, 2017. (KOIN)
Dozen of Portlanders welcomed the Mohammed family who flew to PDX from Iraq on February 5, 2017. (KOIN)