Iraqi Refugees Choose Return to Danger in Iraq over Poverty in U.S.

Monday, March 02, 2009
Tarek Darwish Kisses His Wife Goodbye (photo:Leah Hogsten, The Salt Lake Tribune)

The Salt Lake Tribune shines a light on a small but growing trend: refugees from Iraq who came to the United States to seek safety and a better life, but find so few opportunities in the U.S. that they are risking danger by returning to Iraq. The Bush administration was reluctant to accept too many Iraqi refugees because their presence was a symbol of a failed foreign policy. Barely 14,000 settled in the U.S. in 2008. However, the government feels a particular moral responsibility towards those Iraqis who worked for the Americans in Iraq. One example is the family of 70-year-old former lawyer Tarek Darwish. Darwish’s sister and one of his daughters did security work with the U.S. military. The daughter was murdered and the family home was sprayed with bullets. Six months ago, the family arrived in Utah to start a new life, but found themselves thrust into poverty, unable to find jobs or adequate medical care. Suffering from diabetes and recovering from strokes, Darwish was afraid that if he died in the United States, his family would not have enough money to return his body for burial in his Iraqi hometown. So, last week, Darwish said goodbye to his wife of 38 years and the rest of his family and, with a plane ticket paid for by a friend, flew back to Iraq.

Iraqi Refugees Returning to Danger Zone to Escape Poverty in Utah

(by Julia Lyon, Salt Lake Tribune)


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