Recently, eleven men, mostly middle-aged refugees from Iraq and Syria, settled in on plastic chairs in a community center in the al-Hashmi al-Shamali neighborhood of East Amman, Jordan, waiting for their weekly support group to begin. Officially, there are seven hundred and seventeen thousand refugees in Jordan, but the real tally is thought to be much higher, and many of them live in this area, where rent is cheap, and the multistory, cement-block buildings are ramshackle. It was midday, but since refugees in Jordan are largely forbidden from working, their time is something to be filled. Some of the men in the group hold advanced degrees, while others were once farmers or builders in their own countries. Now they are all in the same situation, linked by poverty, unemployment, and uncertainty.
I was invited to sit in on the support group by my friend Samer Kurdi, a Jordanian painter, who set up the weekly sessions as a way for the refugee men to get things off their chests. It was the first time that they had met since President Trump banned citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iraq and Syria. The news had not yet arrived that a federal judge in Seattle had temporarily lifted the ban. (On Thursday night, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in San Francisco, decided not to reinstate the ban.)
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