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Syrian refugee living in Antigonish says he wants to spread message in U.S.

An Antigonish resident who fled Syria says he wants to share his family's story in the U.S. following a temporary ban on refugees in the country.

Tareq Hadhad and his family members were the first Syrian refugees to settle in Antigonish in 2015; they've since opened a chocolate business, Peace by Chocolate.

Syria is one of seven Muslim-majority countries targeted in an executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump that bars citizens of those countries from entering the U.S.

Hadhad tried to enter Vermont in January, but didn't have the proper paperwork needed as a permanent Canadian resident; Ahmed Hussen, our federal immigration minister, says the ban doesn't apply to permanent residents.

Hadhad tells The Hawk he wants to visit the U.S. and share his positive message about immigration once he gets his paperwork together.

"Getting the visa will happen one day or another," he says. "I think it's more needed now for our story to be heard there, our successful story about how newcomers contribute in their communities- (it) will happen."

Hadhad says he had previously been invited to Vermont by the state's governor.

He says he has spoken with Syrian refugees who came to America recently, and they were concerned about what the new order would mean for them.

Hadhad says he first heard about the ban through fellow Syrians who had already been approved to live in the U.S., and found it hard to believe they'd been detained.

"It was a really frightening and terrifying moment to find out they got arrested in the United States, he says. "(It) is the land of immigrants."

Hadhad says he could be approved to enter the U.S. in the coming weeks if all goes well with his paperwork.

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