Iraqi refugees in Tucson worry about family still overseas - Tucson News Now

Iraqi refugees in Tucson worry about family still overseas

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

More than 6,000 Iraqi refugees have arrived in Arizona since 2008, making them the largest nationality to legally relocate here from overseas.

Organizations like Refuge Focus Tucson and International Rescue Committee help refugees from all countries settle in to life in the U.S., and specifically in the Old Pueblo. Every refugee's story of how he or she made it to America is different, but they all share the same hope that the United States or even the United Nations will help the people still living in their homeland.

An early start

Aqil Alqadi Jubran knew he wanted out of Iraq by the time he graduated school. It was 1991 and living under Saddam Hussein's regime seemed like a nightmare, so Alqadi Jubran set out for something better.

"Everybody looks to America like a dream," he said.

He spent years in the United Arab Emirates before he could bring his immediate family to the U.S. With family already in Arizona, Alqadi Jubran now lives with his wife and two children in Tucson. His mother and older brother still live in Iraq.

"The situation is very bad in Iraq nowadays," he said. "I hope that they can come here."

Keeping in touch

Mahmoud Sadiq Hamza will mark his one year anniversary since his arrival in Tucson on July 7, but he won't be celebrating with family. The current unrest in Iraq has made it difficult for him to keep in touch with his loved ones.

"Last month, I haven't heard from them for like three weeks,"he said. "I was terrified that something went wrong."

He finally connected with family, but Sadiq Hamza never planned to leave them in the first place. He said militia killed his mother, sister and unborn niece. After that, he started the paperwork to flee his home country but the loved ones he left behind are still on the top of his mind.

"I'm not ready to lose another member of my family," said Hamza. "I can't take it anymore."

Like the other refugees working in Tucson, he's doing anything he can to help the rest of his family make it to the United States safely and legally.

What a wait

Sara Jamil and her husband send money to her family in Iraq.She said loved ones remind her of the danger she escaped.

"They keep saying ‘No Sara, you can't believe what we've been through,'" she said. "It's really a disaster there." 

The couple fled their country separately after Jamil's husband had been kidnapped. Reunited in Jordan, the two began their formal paperwork to seek refuge in the U.S. She was told the process would take no more than two years. Jamil and her husband made it to Tucson more than three years later. Her daughter is learning a third language, Spanish.

"I can't imagine my life now if I stayed in Iraq," she said.

Jamil said the wait to be welcomed into the U.S. seemed long, but many others, including her father, are still in Iraq hoping to be the next round of refugees.

"There's so many cases," said Jamil. "You cannot imagine how many cases already got approval and they're just waiting."

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