Over 200,000 Iraqi refugees have applied for asylum in the United States since April 2013. A little less than half have been approved. These days about 25% of the residents of El Cajón in San Diego, California are Iraqi. Many of them are descendants of Chaldean Christians who left their homeland because they were persecuted for their beliefs.
Leaving their country was difficult for most of the Iraqi refugees. And even though they have nothing to go back to, many find it hard to adapt to life in the United States. Particularly because they miss the life they already had; jobs, friends, activities, and culture.
During the interviews these men and women candidly share their stories of struggle and triumph as they accept their new reality.
It took Luay and his family four years to get from Iraq to the United States. They were thrown into jail in various different countries and accused of belonging to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, even though they assured them that they were Christians. It so happens that many in this hemisphere find it hard to believe that there are Christians in the Middle East. According to Luay, if Iraq were the same place as when he was growing up, he would go back there in a heartbeat. But after something is broken it’s almost impossible to put the pieces back together exactly as they were before. Luay, who is now 37 years old, was a mechanic in Baghdad
An elderly gentleman named Younnes states that before the fall of Saddam Hussein, Christians in Iraq could come and go as they pleased, but when the United States became involved everything changed. He misses his homeland and believes that he is too old to learn English, although he is only seventy-six. So he spends his days tending to his garden and spending time with his family.
Leaving everything behind in search of peace and a better future is not easy. Many refugees face rejection and run the risk of being misunderstood or misjudged. But when your country lies in shambles and there is a constant threat of being murdered, you get up and do what you’ve got to do, even if it means uprooting yourself and travelling half-way across the world. Watch this thought-provoking film now.
This is so sad. I am a liberal, I lived in El Cajon for 20 years. I believe in our government allowing refugees to come to America. I am against Trumps travel ban. Yet, I am concerned that you only showed downtown El Cajon Chaldean Refugee’s and a student from El Cajon High School when their are other more affluent High Schools in El Cajon and the Grossmont School District. My daughter went to Valhalla and was a cheerleader with other Chaldean girls and the girls were treated so poorly by the Chaldean boys and the boys drove brand new BMW’s and treated their mother’s and girls, including other cheerleader’s and females who were some of my daughter’s friends like pieces of meat. The cussed, swore at them had no sense of of what a gentleman was a were out of control. I am not saying this was true of all Chaldean boys, yet my daughter and her friends felt sexual harassed and this was at one of the nicest, schools in east county. I knew parents who were Chaldean who were extremely kind and had wonderful children. I really don’t want to make a generalization of Chaldeans. Chaldeans do stick together beacause they have a commonality in their religion, culture and language. In El Cajon, you can look it up. A Chaldean group of adult mean were arrested because of being in a Chaldean Mafia. Google it. Their are many, many Chaldeans who are extremely rich, they have their relatives work for them in the store they own then they in turn buy a store for them all the while collecting welfare while working under the table for their relatives. Not all do this, yet I was told by good, hard working Chadians, that many do this. This may be a way of survival so that they too, who come over with nothing can one day get the American dream. I am sure that because we are a melting pot of Italians, Irish, Europeans…our forefathers did this too. However, I wish you would have covered the wealthy side and other parts of their lives as well. Also, how the American children and adults are having culture clashes with Chaldeans and how learning and communication is part of what we need to do in order to learn and grow as a society to help better understand the plight of refugees and the struggles of a community to understand and deal with the issue that come up especially in the midst of raising our children together with such vast differences where boys are kings and girls are not princesses in their culture. It does cause problems in the High Schools. Luckily, I was able to communicate with some great Chaldean parents but also had to deal with some doors slammed in my face. The other issue is that while our homeless families in this country have to wait years for housing, if you are a refugee, you get housing. This caused for a great deal of resentment in some of the poorer areas and people within the downstown area of El Cajon