Our first family is from Iraq and consists of a soft-spoken mother and father with 2 children, a 7-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter. The husband worked in Baghdad as an electrician. The wife’s brother worked with the U.S. Army. They began to get threats and decided to leave. They came here directly from Baghdad. Some of their extended family members who left at the same time were relocated in San Diego. They have no family in Phoenix. They have been in Phoenix since June 29th, but the father has not yet found work.
The father of our second family was waiting outside for us on this cold morning. After going inside the apartment we met his wife and 4-year-old son, who was playing on a computer. They also have a 6-year-old son who was in school and a 2-year-old son who was napping. The father had been working in Baghdad as an interpreter when he began to get threats and feared his children would be kidnapped. They fled to Syria. He felt he was being followed in Syria and began changing apartments every 1 to 2 months. They lived in Syria for 2 1/2 years, sometimes giving money to the police to leave them alone. He received letters of recommendation from his employers, but left them behind because he feared the Syrian government would arrest him and send him back to Iraq.
Our third family is also from Iraq. In this family are a husband, wife, sister of the husband, a 2-year-old boy and a 6 month old daughter. They were very quiet until we asked them to tell us about Iraq and their trip to the U.S. The wife and the sister, both speaking at the same time, began to tell of many of their experiences. Their “tribe name” is considered to be Sunni, but about 300 years ago their ancestor converted to Shia, and ever since they have been Shias. They lived in a Shia neighborhood in Baghdad until one day they had a letter on their door that told them to leave in 24 hours, because neighbors were not convinced of which religion the family practiced. The previous day, 13 of their aunts, uncles and cousins were killed by a bomb exploding in their house. They left for Syria and for the next 3 years lived there. They said it was very beautiful in Syria, but Iraqis are not allowed to work there. They arrived in Phoenix on July 19th. The father of the husband is still in Syria and it seems very unlikely he will be allowed to come to the U.S.