Canada and the U.S.: A Home for Syrian Refugees

In December 2015, the world saw images of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeting the first planeload of refugees from Syria, telling them, “Welcome home.”

But Trudeau’s government is not responsible for supporting many of the 25,000 Syrians he has promised will arrive in Canada by March 2016. Thousands are being privately sponsored by regular Canadians, using a process unique in the world for placing the power of selecting, financing, and resettling refugees in the hands of private citizens. As a result, Canada is riding a wave of enthusiasm, as people feel empowered to help Syrians in what has become a popular movement.

In the United States, the government sponsors all refugees, and nine resettlement agencies receive federal funding to help them begin new lives. But a coalition of Syrian American and libertarian groups is lobbying the White House for a version of private sponsorship. This could be a moment for change.

Journalist Robin Shulman travels to Canada and to Des Moines, Iowa, to look at how the political dialogue is shaped when so many regular citizens are personally impacting immigration policy.

Starting a New School in Des Moines

Six-year-old Hala Tameem and her four brothers and sisters are excited to start a new school in Des Moines. But they worry other kids won't like them because they're Syrian.

Syrian Refugees Find Shelter in Iowa

Ghazweh Aljabooli didn't know anyone in the United States when she and her family landed as refugees in the Des Moines airport one night in June 2016. But slowly they began to build new lives.

The First Syrian Refugees in Iowa

Ghazweh Aljabooli kept her family together through war in Syria and life as refugees in Jordan. But now they're starting new lives in Iowa, where some of their neighbors don't want them.