In the midst of the Syrian refugee crisis, inflammatory comments about Muslims and several incidents of global terrorism, a movement is beginning around an unlikely person: an Iraqi refugee named Aya.
Aya was first introduced to the world on CNN, when the creator of Humans of New York Brandon Stanton had her on as a guest. Aya, like thousands of other refugees from all over the world, had spent years trying to get through the United States refugee program before being turned down.
Stanton said that of the 12 other refugee families he's interviewed, each family had either a Ph.D. or someone with a severe handicap. Those kinds of high standards are what is keeping Aya out, and now — through a series of posts on his Humans of New York page with 16 million followers — Stanton is bringing the fight to the White House, asking them to review Aya's application again.
And he's doing it by letting her tell her story with posts like this:
Aya's story launched a petition on Change.org. It is now the largest refugee petition among hundreds globally in the history of Change.org with supporters from more than 170 countries. It reached 1,000,000 signatures in less than a week, the fastest of any global petition in Change.org's history.
"Aya is sleeping now," Stanton wrote on his page this week. "But when she wakes up tomorrow, I hope she sees just how many of us care."
Apparently, a lot of people do. That post alone got more than 150,000 likes, which doesn't even compare to the more than 277,000 likes that a post from December 14 of Aya and her dog got. The White House and President Obama have yet to respond to the petition, but Stanton's hopeful that they will.
"It's not a petition, actually," Stanton says on his page. "We're not asking that any action be taken. It's an invitation. It's an invitation for President Obama to join us in saying: 'Aya is important to us. We do not believe she is a threat. And we think she deserves to be here.'"
Want to help? You can sign the petition here.
This is a developing story. Follow back for an update!