Saturday, July 26, 2008

Iraqis who worked for Army denied U.S. entry

San Francisco Chronicle

Kareem Ali Hussein was stunned when he read the Department of Homeland Security letter that branded him ineligible for refugee status in the United States: "It has been determined that you ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of others," the letter stated.

Hussein, who had worked as a translator for the U.S. army in Iraq for 2 1/2 years, fled to Egypt with his wife and seven children in 2005 after their 13-year-old son was held hostage for 11 days because of his father's ties to the United States. A militant Shiite group released him after Hussein paid a ransom of $14,000.

Now, almost three years after leaving Baghdad, the Hussein family lives in a Cairo suburb with no means of support. They are among an estimated 150,000 Iraqi refugees in Egypt, who are not allowed to work or send their children to public schools. They are also among the estimated 4.2 million Iraqis who have fled the country or moved to safer areas inside Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

For the time being, Hussein gets by on family savings, and manages to send his children to private schools. But he figures the funds will be exhausted by 2009.

No comments: