SALT LAKE CITY — Hassan Ali Hassan stood inside Salt Lake City International Airport on Thursday, surrounded by his family and hundreds of well-wishers, and expressed optimism for the days ahead.

"We came here with a big hope to build a bright future for our children, so they will be able to get education and also higher education," said Ali Hassan, whose mother, wife and five children likely will be the final refugees accepted into Utah for at least four months.

All but Ali Hassan's mother — who will join the group in Utah on Friday — arrived Thursday to begin their new life thousands of miles away from their home country of Afghanistan.

More than 200 supporters were on hand to send a message that the new refugee family is welcome in Utah. Loud cheers went up as the family filed into the terminal's baggage claim area.

"This is the first time in our life that we are welcomed," Ali Hassan said through a translator. "You guys are so kind and nice."

Ali Hassan and his wife, Fozia Qurban Ali, have three daughters, ages 11, 8 and 6, and two sons, ages 15 and 4. Ali Hassan said the family had been living in a "harsh situation" after fleeing war-weary Afghanistan to Pakistan a few years ago.

Before the tired but overjoyed family could leave the airport on their way to their new home in South Salt Lake, the inevitable questions came about their thoughts on President Donald Trump's recent executive order banning the acceptance of all refugees into the United States for the next four months.

"We ask President Trump to repeal the ban. … We hope that he will show some kindness," Ali Hassan said.

The executive order caused some anxiety for Ali Hassan's family, he said.

"We were so nervous because of the ban. We thought that we might not be allowed to get in the U.S.," he said through his translator. "But fortunately, we got lucky and are here today."

Ali Hassan was asked about what he wanted Americans to know about his religion of Islam.

"Islam is the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of love," he replied through his translator. "It teaches us peace. … Bad (people) are just misusing the name of Islam."

Ali Hassan said he and his wife are focused on getting their children into school and then finding employment.

"We are a hardworking people," he said. "Me and my wife are ready to get any kind of jobs to be successful in (our) life here."

Aden Batar, director of immigration and refugee resettlement for Catholic Community Services, which coordinated the welcome party, said the organization is typically able to help refugees find jobs within six months.

"They will be working, paying taxes," he said.

Batar said he was unsure of what the resettlement process will entail when the full ban on refugees is lifted.

"This family is the lucky one," he said.

"We don't know what's going to happen," Batar said. "We haven't received any guidance (from the federal government)."

Trump's executive order said the reason for the halting of refugee intake was to "protect (American) citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States."

Batar said he was at a loss as to why refugees would be kept out of the country. He said the United States already had measures in place to ensure ill-intentioned individuals were not being allowed in.

"The system was working," Batar said.

Many who welcomed Utah's last refugee family Thursday also took the opportunity to condemn Trump's executive order. "No hate, no fear. Welcome all refugees," one sign read. "Let them in," read another.

"It's been kind of said and disappointing to see so many Americans who have given into that sense of fear," said Jared Potter, a University of Utah student who volunteers for Catholic Community Services.

A handful of the welcome group were overcome with tears during the arrival, including one young girl who personally greeted the refugee children.

Potter said the emotional homecoming was a "nice change of pace" compared with recent debates about refugees.

"Refugees, they run a marathon," he said. "I thought that was a fitting way to finish a marathon, with people cheering."