Friday, June 6, 2008

Coming To America

Iraqi boys kicking a tattered soccer ball around in the neighborhood dirt lot

We are getting word that the U.S. Government may be planning to implement a program that would grant refugee status to selected Iraqis that have assisted various media outlets and would ostensibly be in danger once the Coalition forces depart this country. As I understand it, these Iraqis, and their families, will be relocated to the United States and given economic assistance for up to eight months, after that they’re on their own to find jobs, housing, etc… Furthermore, they cannot return to Iraq for a set period of time, but will be earmarked for citizenship. On the surface it sounds like an outstanding offer.

I had a conversation with one of our young Iraqi employees yesterday, and he asked me if I thought that he should take the offer. He makes a very good living in Iraq, outside of his employment with us, buying and selling homes. He told me that he has $100K in the bank and believes that it would be enough to set him and his family up in the United States. His dream is to own a neighborhood market somewhere in America.

How do you explain the difficulties he would face living in the United States? This was my quandary. Any description of the high cost of living, increased taxes, language barriers, culture shock, housing shortages would pale when compared to what he and his family are currently living through. I wanted to describe what I believed reality would be like for him in America, but in the end felt stupid when I looked at his current situation here in Iraq.

In the end, his decision came down to what would be better for his 6 year-old son. My friend felt that the opportunities for his son would be far greater in the United States than growing up in what he envisions Iraq will be like in the near future. I felt that it was a fair and unselfish litmus test, and probably one that my ancestors made a century and half ago when they emigrated from Scotland. I hope that it works out for my friend and his family. He keeps threatening to visit me in Atlanta ☺


Anonymous said...

Assisted various 'media outlets'? Does this include Iraq citizens who have worked in assisting the U.S. military? Quite a question for you to answer. Quite a decision for this man to make.
Cathy B

Eric said...


My understanding of the program is, yes. This is an out-cropping of a larger program that is already giving refugee status the various Iraqis that have worked with the Coalition forces and the rebuilding effort. As with all refugee programs the nominee must show that his or her life is in danger and that of their family as a result of working with the Coalition.