Al-Radhi is one of many Iraqi refugees who call Northern Virginia home. Vu Dang, regional director at the International Rescue Committee’s Suburban Resettlement Center, which helped resettle the family, said Iraqi admissions in 2008 have increased rapidly.
“By far, the Iraqis are making up the majority of our clients,” he said.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement said the United States has resettled 60,192 refugees this year. Of those, 13,823 were Iraqis, 536 of whom have resettled in Virginia. That’s an increase from 2007, when 48,281 refugees came to this country, 1,605 of whom were Iraqis and 64 of whom settled in Virginia.
[Refugees International is pushing Obama to agree to over 100,000 Iraqi refugees for FY09]
Transition to life in Northern Virginia has not been without challenges. Al-Radhi’s asylum was not approved until May, leaving him and his family waiting for months, unable to work legally or establish themselves. Dang said the process is “a very, very long wait . . . you can’t go to work, and you’re living day-by-day, wondering whether or not the government is going to deny your case and then deport you back to Iraq to your certain death.”
However, there are no jobs for this 60-year old former judge and his extended family members.
Al-Radhi and his family have received a great deal of assistance from groups such as the International Rescue Committee and a local law firm that took up their case pro bono. Despite the generosity they’ve received, one major problem lingers: employment.
This next comment is puzzling. If they didn’t get jobs through competition, how did they get them? Connections? Bribery? What?
Americans “deal with us as if we are equal to them, which is a very good thing, but at the same time it’s not really a good thing because they want us to act as Americans. To get a job, I have to compete with you . . . which is absolutely different from the way we get jobs in Iraq,” his son-in-law said.
* We have jobless Iraqis in Arizona, Maryland, New Hampshire,Virginia, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Idaho, and Connecticut (so far!).