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Local woman trying to get Syrian husband back home

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Westside woman says she’s spent a decade trying to get her husband, who’s a Syrian refugee and was sent back to Syria in 2006, back home to her in the United States.

She said she’s frustrated with the recent debate over Syrian refugees and hopes it doesn’t make her efforts to get him back any harder.

Roberta Chahin said she married her husband, Hussam Chahin, a Syrian refugee, in 2001, but after they missed an immigration court hearing in 2006, which she said was an accident, he was immediately taken into custody and deported back to Syria before she could ever prove to U.S. authorities that he was married to an American citizen.

“We’re going on 10 years. And when they sent him back they told him, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll be back in a year,’ and that hasn’t happened,” Chahin said.

It all happened shortly after they had their only child, who’s now 10.

“The last time Assam has seen his father was when he was 7 weeks old. When ICE came to pick him up to deport him,” Chahin said.

Ever since she’s been trying to get her husband back to America and said she’s been running into bureaucratic roadblocks at every turn.

She said that because her husband is a Christian in Syria, he lives in danger every day.
“He’s hiding in a jungle, in a village in a jungle. If he wants to get to a village to be able to purchase something he has to walk for miles and miles,” Chahin said.

Now she’s taken the fight to local legislators. Chahin said she tried Marco Rubio’s office with no luck and is turning to Sen. Bill Nelson, hoping he can help. She adds the current political climate over Syrian refugees is not easy to watch.

"Not all Syrians are bad. Not all Muslims are bad. Extremists come from any country, extremists can be homegrown," Chahin said.

Rubio’s office did send Chahin a message on her plight stating;

"Dear Mrs. Chahin,

"Thank you for taking the time to contact me to express your concerns regarding the United States' policy toward the terrorist group known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the danger it poses to our country.

"ISIL represents quite possibly the most dangerous terrorist threat that the United States has ever faced. Originally an offshoot of Al Qaeda, ISIL has made clear its intention to establish an Islamic Caliphate throughout the Middle East. In recent months, ISIL has expanded the territory it controls in Iraq and Syria to encompass large swaths of the two countries. ISIL militants have committed horrific atrocities killing and terrorizing thousands of innocent civilians. ISIL has shamelessly displayed its brutal atrocities through social media, proudly demonstrating its barbarism to the world.

"ISIL poses a clear threat not only to the Middle East but also to our own people. The danger that ISIL poses to the United States was clearly demonstrated with the brutal decapitations of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by ISIL militants. These cowardly acts of violence showed that ISIL has no qualms with targeting Americans. ISIL has pledged to launch attacks beyond territory it currently controls against the U.S. and its allies. They have demonstrated their ability to raise sizable funds through oil revenue and kidnappings, as well as attract thousands of foreign fighters, even some Americans, to join them. These factors make the threat of ISIL impossible for our country to ignore.

"The United States should not underestimate the threat ISIL poses to the American people, and we must take decisive action to protect both American interests and the U.S. homeland. The use of airstrikes to degrade ISIL's capabilities in both Iraq and Syria is welcome. However more must also be done to support vetted opposition on the ground in Syria. I support arming the Free Syrian Army and other moderate opposition groups that have been fighting against ISIL and President Bashar Assad in Syria. These measures are imperative if the United States is committed to achieving its goal of ending the threat of ISIL to our nation and our allies. This will not be a short or easy victory, but it is absolutely vital that the U.S. and coalition partners defeat these radical Islamic terrorists.

"As a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. I will keep your thoughts in mind as my colleagues and I continue to consider this matter. I will work diligently to ensure the United States remains a safe and prosperous nation.


Marco Rubio
United States Senator"

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Specializes in Clay County issues, general assignment reporting and stories off the beaten path and anchors weekend evening newscasts.