A love story beyond borders

A forbidden love leading one man and woman to immigrate to the United States.

Life wasn't always easy for Bassam Dabbah and his family. Bassam traveled to Jordan to work and study from his home country Syria.  That's where he fell in love with his wife, Nibal. She was originally from Israel. Their romance was strained by the tension between their two home countries. "We suffered a lot there," Bassam tells us.

There haven't been diplomatic relations between Syria and Israel since the mid-20th century. "I cannot go to Israel because I'm Syrian," says Bassam.  "She cannot go to Syria, I cannot go back to Syria."  The two had no choice but to stay in Jordan, far from both of their families.  They eventually married but their hardships were just beginning.

"We didn't [do] anything wrong. We just love each other and decide to get married, no matter what the relationship between two countries is... it was our personal life." Bassam had no choice but to miss the births of their first two daughters, Lubner and Sham. "She has to go back to Israel and deliver there," he says, "I was giving her a ride and I'd have to stay at the border. I cannot go in with her."

No longer wanting to deal with the consequences of their nationalities in their lives, Bassam and Nibal made the decision to apply for resettlement. After two long years they learned that Erie, Pennsylvania would be their new home. Bassam says, "we left all of our family back home, but here we found new family, we found friends. We're really happy to be in Erie." Bassam and Nibal both work full-time jobs and they own two small businesses in Erie, Le Royal Event Decor and Sham Market.  They also had two more children, Celine and Samir.

"If you work hard, you can reach whatever you want," Bassam advises.  The couple went through the citizenship process and in March of 2015 it became official. State Trial Judge Stephanie Domitrovich says she feels proud when she watches immigrants become US citizens. Both of her parents came from Greece. Domitrovich tells us that her mother said, "Greece was second in her heart on that day when she became a citizen and the United States became first."

After every ceremony, she wishes the country's newest citizens off with a special message. "congratulations in your new country".

Bassam says, "I'm living the American dream and really I'm happy to be American."

For information on becoming a citizen, click here


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