A lot of refugees are placed in Idaho. We have many many posts on the topic of Idaho and refugees over the years. At one point, it was (maybe still is) one of those immigrant overloaded cities begging for a respite. Since I mentioned the Special Immigrant Visas last week available to people who worked in Iraq for the US government, this article in the Idaho Statesman caught my eye.
Idaho Statesman today:
In the past year, more than 9,000 of the 56,000 refugees who came to the U.S. came from Iraq. Iraqis now represent one of the largest groups of refugees in Idaho.
In the past five years, 912 Iraqi refugees have arrived in the state — 93 in the last year. Thousands more Iraqi men and women who worked for the U.S. military are in the country on special immigrant visas.
According to the Idaho Office for Refugees, the number of refugees from the Near East/South Asia (Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan) will continue to grow as post-war resettlement efforts continue.
Like any population, immigrants are mobile, moving for job opportunities or to be closer to family members in other cities. Officials don’t know how many Iraqis have stayed in Idaho over the years, said Kara Fink, communications specialist with the IOR.
Michael Paul’s, a convert from Islam to Christianity, was the profile, of three reported in this article, that interested me most.
He converted from Islam to Christianity in 1993.
He practiced his new religion quietly for a decade, waiting for the day he could practice in the open. His first goal after walking onto a U.S. base in 2003 was to meet the American chaplain and get baptized.
He wanted to come to the U.S. to study with biblical scholars. And he could not stay in Iraq; his religion and his work put him in double jeopardy.
His family rejected him because of his conversion.
Grateful for Americans
He was kidnapped three times while working for the Americans. He describes his kidnappers as “masked militia men” whom he heard say, “We caught that traitor. He has no loyalty to his country.”
American soldiers rescued him after each kidnapping. He saw their humanity in other ways, such as when an army medic found an injured donkey in the street and dressed its wounds.
“I received a lot from Americans in Iraq. I want to give back in the way God allows me,” Paul said.
He told the mother of one fallen American soldier—we were “fighting evil.”
The US left Iraq too soon
As much as he believes in the sacrifices made by Americans, he says it will be a long time before life is better in Iraq.
He listens to Iraqi radio online, and knows Christians must still hide their beliefs. He wishes America could keep a heavy presence in Iraq: Iraqis will need guidance to learn the tenets of democracy after decades under a dictator.
“I wish more than anything that one day Iraq will be like any state in America,” he said.
As the Muslim Brotherhood continues its expansion in the US, people like Paul should spot the danger first and sound the alarm for naive Americans.