Obama invites local Syrian refugee to SOTU

Posted at 11:44 AM, Jan 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-10 12:57:41-05

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have invited a local Syrian refugee who made national headlines to attend the State of the Union in the First Lady's box.

Refaai Hamo is a scientist who grew up in Syria. He was living in a complex he designed when a Syrian government anti-personnel missile tore through the complex, killing seven of his family members, including his wife and daughter.

He fled to Turkey after the bombing, and but couldn't work and was eventually diagnosed with stomach cancer. After two years, he received refugee status and ended up in Troy, Mich. He arrived at Detroit Metro Airport in December.

After being featured on the Facebook page Humans for New York, President Obama responded to the post saying, "As a husband and father, I cannot even begin t imagine the loss you're endured. You and your family are an inspiration. I know that the great people of Michigan will embrace you with the compassion and support you deserve. Yes, you can still make a difference in the world, and we're proud that you'll pursue your dreams here. Welcome to your new home. You're part of what makes America great."

According to The White House, Hamo is one of the people invited to sit in the First Lady's box because his story highlights "where we have been and where America is going in the future, building on the best of what our country has to offer."

Hamo is one of 23 people invited to sit in the First Lady's box. There will also be an empty seat for victim's of gun violence.