With Trump’s Travel Ban on Hold, Iraqi Family Arrives in Nashville in 2nd Attempt to Reach US

iStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Iraqi citizen Fuad Sharef Suleman and his family landed in Nashville, Tennessee, Sunday night to start a new life, more than a week after they were barred from entering the United States because of their country of origin.

It had taken Suleman more than two years to receive U.S. immigrant visas for him, his wife and three children. He and his wife quit their jobs and sold their house in Iraq, and their children left their school, all with the expectation of coming to America.

Suleman worked in Iraq as a nongovernmental organization subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which administers civilian foreign aid. Suleman said one of the reasons he applied for immigration visas was because he feared for the family’s safety, given his work with the U.S. government.

"For the terrorists [in Iraq], if you work for the Americans, you become a target. They consider you an infidel," or unfaithful, the Muslim man told ABC News in an interview on Jan. 28.

Suleman said his family had paid about $5,000 for airline tickets to the United States, and that they were traveling on a special immigrant visa for Iraqis because of the work he did with the United States in his home country. They chose to move to Nashville where they already have friends and which hosts one of the largest Kurdish populations in the United States. The Tennessee capital is known as “Little Kurdistan” by many of its Kurdish residents.

But the Suleman’s were prohibited from boarding their connecting flight in Egypt from Cairo International Airport to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York Jan. 28, a day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending refugee admittance and immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations with ties to terror, including Iraq.

The Suleman family was one of many stuck in transit because of Trump’s controversial ban. But on Friday, a federal judge in Seattle issued a nationwide temporary restraining order blocking the president’s executive action. So airlines around the world were given the green light to resume refugee admittance and immigrant entry into America from the seven countries covered in the order: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Hours after the judge’s ruling, Suleman and his family boarded a plane from Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, in their second attempt to reach the United States. Iraqi Kurdish troops, known as Peshmerga, are a crucial U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS in the city of Mosul, the Islamic militant group’s last stronghold in the country.

In their first steps on U.S. soil, the Sulemans arrived at New York’s Kennedy Airport Sunday afternoon before boarding another flight to Nashville, their final destination. A crowd of residents, activists and government officials anxiously awaited the family’s arrival at Nashville International Airport with welcoming signs.

“Hopefully, they’ll be allowed to stay once they’re here,” Nashville resident Joyce Stainbrook told ABC Nashville affiliate WKRN-TV as she waited. “I think [Trump] is going to have quite a fight on his hands because he has no idea the sleeping tiger that he awoke in this country.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and actress Connie Britton of the show “Nashville” were also among the hundreds in attendance.

“Our great city of Nashville is known for southern hospitality, and it’s very important that we extend that hospitality to families like Fuad Suleman’s family so that they know that they’re welcome here,” Cooper said, addressing the crowd. “Nashville is a city of the American dream and we got to keep it that way.”

As the Suleman’s disembarked and entered the terminal, the crowd erupted in loud cheers and applause. Then people began to chant, “Welcome home.”

Suleman and his family shook hands, gave hugs and blew kisses as they made their way through the crowd. They received flowers, cards and gifts. Suleman said they were overcome by the dozens of people who came to welcome them to their new home.

“Today is a very important day in my and my family’s life, as it marks the first day of my new life in Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America,” Suleman said, addressing the crowd. “But your presence here and the amount of support that you showed and your open arms make this a very, very exceptional day for me. Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Speaking to WKRN-TV Sunday night, Suleman was overwhelmed with emotion and struggled to find the words in reaction to the welcome.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” he said. “The welcoming, it was genuine. You see genuine smiles, genuine happiness in their faces.”

Suleman plans to continue his college education here and wants his children to get a U.S. education as well, he told the TV station, adding that he was looking forward to some down time in his new home.

“It was a long journey from Erbil to Nashville,” he said. “This day is a turning point in my life.”

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Protests erupt from Boston to California as Confederate monument tensions boil over

Protests erupt from Boston to California as Confederate monument tensions boil overSpencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The weekend after a white nationalist rally collapsed into chaos in Charlottesville, Virginia, leading to the alleged murder of an anti-racism activist, protests erupted across the country against white supremacy, racism and the presence of Confederate monuments.

Boston, Massachusetts

Tens of thousands counterprotesting a rally purporting to be about free speech swarmed Boston on Saturday, leading to a few conflicts with police and widespread attention from traditional and social media.

A total of 33 arrests were made Saturday in Boston, primarily resulting from disorderly conduct and alleged assaults against police officers, the Boston Police Department said. Police indicated that some demonstrators were throwing rocks and bottles of urine, but that did not represent the majority of participants, according to Police Commissioner William Evans.

"99.9 percent of the people here were for the right reasons" and participated peacefully, Evans said.

Dallas, Texas

Thousands of demonstrators gathered around the area of Dallas City Hall Saturday at a rally calling for unity, according to ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.

More than a dozen activists, politicians and faith leaders spoke prior to a candlelight vigil, the affiliate reported.

Tensions were high near Confederate War Memorial Park, where calls have been growing to remove statues commemorating Civil War veterans who fought for the Confederacy, WFAA-TV reported.

Cotton candy and caramel apples for sale for $3 in the middle of this protest against Dallas' Confederate War Memorial. pic.twitter.com/SdWNhGmTP1

— Jason Whitely (@JasonWhitely) August 20, 2017

Monuments commemorating the Confederacy on public land "must be and will be removed," Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway said at a Friday press conference, which featured black members of Dallas's City Council, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Kevin Felder, one of the City Council members, said "taxpayer dollars should not support vestiges of racism and white supremacy," in reference to the statues, while speaking at Friday's press conference.

Five people were detained during Saturday’s rally and then released without charges, the Dallas Police Department told ABC News.

Memphis, Tennessee

Six demonstrators were arrested in Memphis following a rally to remove a monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest, a slavetrader and lieutenant general who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, according to ABC affiliate WATN-TV.

The monument has become a flashpoint of tension between anti-racism activists, who covered it with anti-racist signs on Saturday, and those who seek to protect the history of the Confederacy.

Gene Andrews, a caretaker for Nathan Bedford Forrest's boyhood home and a participant in the white nationalist rally that took place in Charlottesville last week, told the Tennessean newspaper that tensions over the monuments were building.

"I think people have had enough," Andrews told the paper. "Somewhere there’s going to be a line drawn. And if it’s a war that’s coming, so be it."

Our beloved @tamisawyer and other activists calling on @MayorMemphis remove Confederate statues. #TakeEmDown901 pic.twitter.com/bwjtTmEimp

— Broderick Greer (@BroderickGreer) August 16, 2017

Atlanta, Georgia

Hundreds of groups gathered in Centennial Olympic Park on Saturday in Atlanta to march against racism and hate, according to ABC affiliate WSB-TV.

The march ended at the tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the affiliate reported.

Hundreds of anti-racism marchers quietly filing into Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta. #Charlottesville pic.twitter.com/gTApyUpWbI

— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) August 20, 2017

Indianapolis, Indiana

Anthony Ventura, a 30-year-old man, was arrested after police said he damaged the Confederate statue with a hammer, according to ABC affiliate WRTV.

Laguna Beach, California

In Laguna Beach on Saturday, a group of about 300 demonstrators met for a pre-emptive response to a far-right rally planned for that day, the Los Angeles Times reported. At the rally, participants planned to call attention to victims of crimes committed by immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

Thank you to Saturday's rally at Main Beach for staying peaceful while expressing your First Amendment rights. #LagunaBeach pic.twitter.com/mufznrEBIL

— Laguna Beach Police (@LagunaBeachPD) August 19, 2017

Saturday’s gathering of counterprotesters, which was set up to show solidarity and strength, was officially called “From Charlottesville to Laguna Beach: We Stand Together.” Laguna Beach Mayor Toni Iseman helped organize the event and spoke to the crowd on Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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