In the past year, more than 9,000 of the 56,000 refugees who came to the U.S. came from Iraq. Iraqis now represent one of the largest groups of refugees in Idaho. In the past five years, 912 Iraqi refugees have arrived in the state — 93 in the last year. Thousands more Iraqi men and women who worked for the U.S. military are in the country on special immigrant visas.
According to the Idaho Office for Refugees, the number of refugees from the Near East/South Asia (Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan) will continue to grow as post-war resettlement efforts continue.
Like any population, immigrants are mobile, moving for job opportunities or to be closer to family members in other cities. Officials don’t know how many Iraqis have stayed in Idaho over the years, said Kara Fink, communications specialist with the IOR.
But many have stayed. Three men who told their stories to the Idaho Statesman share a concern for the chaos and uncertainty in their home country after the departure of U.S. troops.
HAYDER ALRUBAYE: RETURNING TO SCHOOL
Before the war began, Hayder Alrubaye, 27, was in school in Baghdad. He was studying English and planning to become a basketball coach.
“But war is war. College stops. School stops. Everything stops,” he said.
A little more than a year after arriving in the U.S., the Baghdad native is living in a Boise apartment. He translates for local refugee resettlement agencies. He also works nights, from10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., at a food processing plant.
He’ll start at Boise State University this semester. He wants to study criminal justice. He’s still figuring out how he’s going to juggle school, work and helping his family.
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