The Khoja family’s arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport Tuesday night marked the end of an odyssey they feared they would never complete.
Beginning three years ago in the Syrian city of Aleppo, it has taken them through streets patrolled by snipers and across a militarized border where guards shoot to kill.
It has taken them through three years eking out a living in Turkey as Syria’s war killed hundreds of thousands and turned their old street into piles of shattered stone.
And last week, just when they thought they were finally safe, it left them trapped in Istanbul after one of the Trump administration’s most contentious decisions to date.
Their bags had been packed for a flight when the White House announced on Jan. 27 a ban on Syrian refugees entering the United States. “At first I thought it was a joke, that she was joking with me,” said Mahmoud Khoja, 58, remembering the phone call telling them their flights had been canceled. “I just froze.”