Iraqi journalist has second thoughts about resettling in U.S.

Fort Worth Star-TelegamJuly 12, 2009 

FORT WORTH — He arrived 2  1/2 weeks ago, with a heavy suitcase and years of pent-up hopes and dreams.

Faced with imminent danger in his homeland of Iraq, 39-year-old Hussein Khalifa was finally in the United States — in Fort Worth — seeking refuge in a country where one of his friends said "this is the life."

Now he’s wondering whether danger really is the worst thing he could face.

Loneliness has set in on the man accustomed to working two jobs and spending much time with his 4-year-old nephew.

He has been forced into a slower pace as he waits for a Social Security card and legal documents that will let him formally begin a job search. So he spends time talking with other Iraqi refugees, looking through old pictures, sending e-mails to family and talking on the telephone with his nephew, who wants him to come home.

"I’m frustrated," said Khalifa, an English teacher, interpreter and special correspondent for news organizations in Baghdad. "At home, I have everything I want — a home, money, family. But . . . I can’t guarantee my life.

"In this country, I have my life but nothing else."

A life in danger

Khalifa is one of millions of Iraqis who fled their country in recent years, fearing violence and political instability.

In his case, he is worried for his life — and has received threats — because Iraqis who work with American news organizations are often seen as traitors. And he has worked in Baghdad as an interpreter and special correspondent through the years for organizations including Independent Television News and McClatchy.

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