ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - It's probably fair to say that in order to really understand how dangerous the situation in Syria is, you have to live through it. And one family in Minnesota knows all too well about the violence there.
"Minnesota is a lovely place that Syrians would love a lot because Syria is a very dry place and when they come here, they see green everywhere,” Bashar Alakkad said.
As a humanitarian aid worker for the United Nations, Alakkad delivered food to refugees in Syria. But now he's the one who needs help in his adopted home of Minnesota.
"The warmth of the people you appreciate a lot,” Alakkad said. “That's why I feel Minnesota is so important to me and I can survive here."
Alakkad, his wife, and their 12-year-old son Tarek left their home in Damascus two months ago because of the rising violence caused by the war between the Assad regime and rebel groups like ISIS.
They eventually landed in Virginia where Alakkad has relatives but they decided to come to Minnesota after a relief worker from Duluth they met in Turkey told them Minnesotans are the best people in the U.S.
"First of all there are no checkpoints,” Alakkad said. “There's no bombing. And it’s a lot colder than Syria. It’s more enjoyable than Syria."
Alakkad says President Obama's plan to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country needs less talk and more action. He says governors who don't want those refugees in their states because they could be terrorists are politically grandstanding.
"People see the horrific news and they will say this guy is caring about protection so we will vote for him,” he says.
But he says the people in one of the coldest states have the warmest hearts.
"If this setting is giving me the right to stay and to survive here, I have only one option to respond in kind and to be a very good citizen here and very good productive citizen and repay it to the community in kind.”