Upon meeting Shadi Batal, it is hard not to be impressed. Only 25 years old, Batal has been running his hair salon on 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn for five years. He is happily married and drives a shiny BMW around the streets of his vibrant Arab-American neighborhood. His life is almost storybook in its personification of immigrant success in the U.S.

But as a native of Syria, Batal’s life is much more complicated than it appears.