Omar Al Muqdad nurses his coffee cup and remembers life in Syria.
Not once, not twice, but three times the Assad government issued an execution order for him. He had criticized the government — a crime punishable by death. He escaped to Turkey, then came to the United States to live in Arkansas as a political refugee.
Now, he worries that others like him will not be able to escape Syria because of expected Trump administration restrictions on immigration from terror-prone regions.
Muqdad calls Syrian refugees "natural allies of the U.S." because refugees are "not our enemies because they are fleeing terrorism."
Pro-immigrant groups are mobilizing to get ahead of expected Trump administration orders, but Trump supporters say the Obama administration went too far with the number of refugees allowed in the U.S., and the new president's plans will restore the status quo.
Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, is concerned the U.S. could accept terrorists among the refugees.
"Without proper effective vetting, if you rush the job and are not careful," seemingly law-abiding peoples can become seduced by ideas of extreme violence and radicalism, Stein said.
Advocates point out America was built on immigrants and those like Muqdad ask, "If the United States is not going to welcome them, who is?"
"The U.S. takes the back seat to no one in its generosity and hospitality to people who are fleeing persecution from around the world," Stein said. "But let’s face it, there are limits."
New President's priorities
In his first full news conference Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer laid out the priorities of the Trump administration.
Spicer said "smart immigration" will begin as a "comprehensive look at how we’re keeping people out of this country that shouldn’t be here" and that people leave when visas expire.
The priorities include erecting a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and deporting criminals who are here illegally.
What happens to 'Dreamers'?
Greisa Martinez was seven years old when her parents crossed the border from Mexico into Texas, illegally.
She lived undocumented until 2012 when the Obama Administration created the so-called dreamer act (DACA) and deferred any deportation for two years. Martinez doesn't know what this administration will decide.
"No matter what happens," she says, "I will find a solution to protect my family."
Stein predicts the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy) dreamers will stay and be used as a negotiating tool with the new Congress. He says the American people need to examine what they want for immigration policies.
Specifically, how to prevent more occurrences of millions of people here illegally by asking, "Why are they here and why have they been allowed to stay, and why do deportation hearings take so long?"
Democrats say they will fight "tooth and nail" against any anti-immigration measures.