Refugee partnership considers next steps after Syrian family barred from traveling to western Virginia

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) What happened to the seven members of a Syrian family who were expected to arrive in western Virginia today?

The President's executive order on immigration last week prevented them from travelling to the United States. On Thursday, Senior Reporter Joe Dashiell spoke with a member of the Blacksburg Refugee Partnership, about the road ahead for that family and the group here that hoped to sponsor them.

Susan Verbrugge says members of the Blacksburg Refugee Partnership were devastated when the President's executive order on immigration prevented a Syrian refugee family from traveling to the United States.

"Most of us were in tears," Verbrugge told WDBJ7, "not for ourselves, but for this particular family and for all of the families that are in such horrific, tragic circumstances."

Verburgge is the pastor of Glade Church in Blacksburg. She says the Blacksburg Refuge Partnership represents a cross section of the community, including many different faiths, many different people who have rallied around a common purpose.

"We think that our country, that our arms should be open wide to people who are fleeing from violence and persecution," she said Thursday morning.

The Syrian refugees who were coming to Blacksburg were vetted during their four-year stay in the refugee camp in Jordan. They had all the papers they needed to come to the United States. Now, with a delay of at least 120 days and perhaps longer, it is unclear what the future holds for them.

"I don't know if they would have to start over at the very beginning," Verbrugge said, "but many of the papers, the medical papers that sort of thing that they had to pass will expire and they will have to go back and go through all of that again, which will mean months and months and months of waiting even longer."

Verbrugge says the Blacksburg Refugee Partnership is determined to continue advocating for refugee families that have been cleared to enter the country.

The group had lined up an apartment, alerted the schools and was planning to help with a job search. Now members are considering the possibility of assisting another refugee family that has already arrived in the United States.