January 12, 2016 NEWS RELEASE — State of the Union Guest was resettled by the Michigan partner of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Press Contact: Miji Bell
MBell@lirs.org; 410-230-2841

BALTIMORE, MD — Baltimore based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is pleased that a Syrian refugee resettled by one of its partner agencies will be one of President and Mrs. Obama’s guests at tonight’s State of the Union Address.

Syrian scientist Refaai Hamo, his son and three daughters, arrived in the United States in December, having spent two years in Turkey where they fled in 2013 after their family’s home was destroyed by a bomb during Syria’s civil war.  The family was approved for refugee status in the US and has been resettled in Detroit by Lutheran Social Services of Michigan.

“We are very pleased that the Administration has extended this invitation to Mr. Hamo,” said Linda Hartke, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “We are optimistic that by doing so, President Obama will reinforce our strong belief that welcoming refugees reflects American values and is the right thing to do.”

Hamo will sit in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box in the House of Representatives gallery for the speech. He drew international attention in December when he was featured in the popular blog, “Humans of New York”.

Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is the second largest refugee resettlement agency in the United States. It is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating with refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations. Through more than 75 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.

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