Illustration for article titled Obamas Invite Syrian Refugee Featured on iHumans of New York/i as Guest at State of the Union

Michelle and Barack Obama have invited Refaai Hamo, a Syrian scientist featured on Humans of New York, to sit in the First Lady’s box during Tuesday’s State of the Union address.


Hamo, 55, left Syria after a missile hit his home and killed seven of his family members, including his wife and one of his daughters. In the HoNY post, Hamo, who has stomach cancer—which was untreated because he lacked insurance—said he wanted to “make a lasting contribution to humanity.”

His case attracted the attention of actor Edward Norton who organized a fundraising drive for Hamo and his four remaining children. After reading the HoNY post, President Obama called Hamo’s story “an inspiration,” adding that he was “proud that you’ll pursue your dreams here.”


After two years, Hamo was approved for refugee status and relocated to Detroit last month. In a statement, he said:

“I was thrilled when I heard that President Barack Obama is welcoming us into the United States. I felt that hope was revived as well as the strength to continue my dreams and ambition in my new country. I am so proud and honored to be in this country and look forward to one day becoming an American citizen so that we can be part of making America a strong and great country.”

USA Today notes that Hamo’s invitation is a signal from President Obama to the Congress. The newspaper describes the invitation as “a dramatic step to show he opposes Republican efforts to slow or halt the admission of refugees over terrorist concerns.”

Image via AP.

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