Refugee Voices: AAI Highlights Arab Refugees at #Yalla2016

Posted by Rawan Elbaba on October 30, 2015 in Blog
OMalley_Refugee_meeting_2.JPGOn Friday, October 23rd presidential candidate Governor Martin O’Malley met with recently resettled refugees during the Arab American Institute's National Leadership Conference, #Yalla2016 in Dearborn, Michigan. Governor O’Malley met with Radhia Fakhrildeen, Moustafa Assad, and Noor Al Dabbagh to hear their personal stories and experiences of resettling in the United States.
Syrian refugee Moustafa Assad and his family resettled in Michigan from Turkey 10 months ago. After leaving Idlib, Syria by car to cross the border into Turkey, Assad and his three eldest daughters worked tirelessly in low-paying jobs to support their family. This past September after arriving in Michigan, Assad children were able to go to schoolf for the first time in three years.
Noor Al Dabbagh discussed the ongoing difficulties she has had attempting to resettle her family in the United States from Iraq as asylum seekers. After her husband was kidnapped by a terrorist group in Iraq, Al Dabbagh an electrical engineer, and her family sought asylum in Troy, Michigan where her and her husband struggled to obtain work authorization permits. She hopes to begin working to support herself, her husband, and their two sons, ages 5 and 1. 
Radhia Fakhrildeen is a recently resettled refugee from Iraq. She is a mother of three and fomerly worked as an Arabic-to-English translator at a humanitarian organization. After receiving approval to resettle with her three children, Radhia was left with the difficult reality of her husband being rejected by UNHCR for resettlement. As she works towards reuniting with her husband who is currently in Baghdad, she is trying to make end’s meet in Michigan to support her family as a single mother.
Governor O’Malley was the first presidential candidate to support increasing the amount of Syrianrefugees the United States admitted and set a numerical goal of 65,000. In an op-ed in USA Today, he wrote that it is the rough equivalent of adding six seats to a baseball stadium that holds 32,000. By both being the first candidate to call for the United States to do more, and by his private meeting with refugees, he has consistently shown that he stands out as a compassionate leader in a crowded field. 
Rawan Elbaba is an intern with the Arab American Institute.
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