Syrian refugee offers free meals to federal workers amid shutdown

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 23.01.2019 00:00

A Syrian refugee living in the U.S. provides federal government employees with a free meal every day at his restaurant, as Washington is going through a partial government shutdown.

Yassin Terou, the owner of the Yassin's Falafel House in Tennessee, launched the campaign on Jan. 14, which offers free meals to federal workers when they show their employee ID cards.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Terou said he came to the U.S. in 2011 after the civil war broke out in Syria, and opened the restaurant in 2014.

"People in Tennessee showed us so much love at that time," Terou said, adding that they started the campaign to return the favor of "hardworking and helpful" people. The owner of the restaurant said the number of people who benefit from the campaign, "launched for love," was increasing day by day. Terou said the move did not have any political concerns and it does not matter if the people coming to his shop are Republican or Democrat. "We've received so much support for this campaign," he added.

Terou also thanked the Turkish nation for hosting the Syrians. "Turkish nation has shown a big help and hospitality to people who sought refuge in the country due to the situation in Syria," he said. Terou also said he wishes to hear stories similar to his own from his Syrian brothers living in Turkey. Yassin's Falafel House was named the Nicest Place in America by the Reader's Digest magazine in 2018. The ongoing partial government shutdown has become the longest closure in U.S. history as President Donald Trump continues to insist on funding for his border wall, a demand that Democrats have staunchly resisted.

Since Dec. 22, some 800,000 U.S. federal employees have been on mandatory leave or working without pay because President Donald Trump and Congress have been at an impasse over $5.7 billion the president wants to build a wall on the Mexico border. House Democrats this week are pushing ahead with voting on their own legislation to re-open the government and add $1 billion for border security —including 75 more immigration judges and infrastructure improvements — but no funding for the wall.

Trump on Saturday offered to extend temporary protections for young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children and those fleeing disaster zones for three years in exchange for $5.7 billion for his border wall. Democrats said the proposal for a three-year extension didn't go nearly far enough, and that Trump was using as leverage programs that he had targeted. Meanwhile, some on the right, including conservative commentator Ann Coulter, have accused Trump of offering "amnesty."

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