'It would be a joy to have them living here:' Pee Dee man wants family out of Syria

'It would be a joy to have them living here:' Pee Dee man wants family out of Syria

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Ron Jebaily, who lives in Florence, has called the United States home his entire life.

However, with his paternal grandparents coming from Aleppo, Syria, Jebaily said he still has more than 25 cousins in Syria, and they are in danger.

"They have lived through a year and a half I hope none of us ever have to go through," said Jebaily, who is the brother of Florence City Councilman George Jebaily.

He added he did have more than 60 family members there at one time, but about half have been able to escape to other countries. Jebaily tried to help those that are left get out by inquiring about the visa and asylum process.

According to Jebaily, he contacted U.S. Sen. Tim Scott's office, which he said was very helpful. However, the State Department was slow and bureaucratic, and it took a while to get responses.

Eventually, Jebaily found out his family members would have to fill out a visa application or an application for asylum at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

"If they physically can't go to a U.S. embassy, they can't come to this country," he said.

That stopped hope in its tracks.,

Jebaily's family, like many others, is questioning what their future holds following President Donald Trump's executive order that suspends immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 120 days.

The Pee Dee man's family members are Christian, so he thinks Trump's statement of giving Christians priority could help eventually help them, although he wants the process to be fair to everyone.

"I'm an American and we treat people fairly here, but if there is an opportunity for preference for Christians, I want my family to get it," Jebaily said.

He added there is enough room to give preference to Christians in the refugee process while also being fair and non-discriminatory, as he said that is a slippery slope.

Overall, Jebaily thinks America should take in vetted refugees, especially compared to the other countries in the area who have taken in millions of people.

He said this is something the president is allowed to decide and he knows the reason for this weekend's order is fear of domestic violence and terrorism. However, Jebaily thinks existing law already allowed for people who have been named victims of genocide to come here.

He does have concerns for the foreign policy outfalls of this, including the preference for a religion becoming fuel for ISIS.

Still, in the end, what Jebaily wants is his family to be safe.

"It would be a joy to have them living here," he said.

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