RUTLAND, Vt. -- In Rutland, Vermont, the Khatib family -- father Ahmed, mother Mahasen and their three kids -- is getting settled.
They are Syrian refugees from a village inwho arrived just last week.
“We couldn’t bear the gunshots and the bombing. It started to happen day and night and my daughter was running trying to hide in the house and she called out to me all the time,” Ahmed said.
The Khatibs are one of two families among the first of 110 refugees set to be relocated in Rutland, but it’s a process in jeopardy by the president’s promise to halt the rest of the families from arriving.
“I am disheartened, but not defeated,” said Marsha Cassel with Rutland First, a group organized to welcome the refugees and get them settled with clothing and furniture.
“These are not the people that you need to fear. These people are running for their lives. They have been victims to the very same people that we fear of violence,” Cassel said.
“All Muslims are not bad people,” said Don Cioffi, a retired teacher.
Cioffi applauds the president’s promise to stop the refugee program temporarily and provide more time to vet everyone coming here.
“It only takes one with a vest on to blow up some of my friends. It only takes one,” he said.
The Khatib’s were already vetted for two years while waiting in a Turkish refugee camp.
“It’s just lack of knowledge,” said Mike Khalil, a businessman in Rutland.
Khalil, a U.S. citizen who emigrated from Syria as Mohammad Khalil 35 years ago, is asking the people of Rutland for one thing when it comes to the new arrivals.
“If they give them a chance, the same chance that I got, they will see that these folks will be working hard,” he said.
Khalil should know. He’s got a thriving real estate business in Rutland.
In fact, he asked a client to help these families out and now expects the fathers of the two refugee families to get jobs working at a local grocery store.