🕐Two Decades Later: Iraqi Dreamers Eye 🇺🇸 American Dream—A Nightmare or a Reality? 🤔

🕐🕰️ A whopping 20 years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, countless Iraqis are still playing the waiting game, vying for a chance to settle in the American homeland. An estimated 164,000 of them have already found homes since the 2003 invasion, but many remain in the queue. One such hopeful is Ammar Rashed, an Iraqi national who offered his services during the risky days of the Iraq War. Despite having a stack of letters from U.S. troops vouching for his contributions, his immigration status remains a big question mark six years after applying. Bureaucratic delays, attacks on U.S embassies, and even COVID-19 have been cited as reasons for the snail-paced immigration process. So, is the American dream a reality or just a pipe dream for these eager Iraqis? 🤔🗽

Once upon a time, not so long ago, Abdullah Omar from Iraq found himself clutching his information packet and the flag of his dreams 🇺🇸 during a naturalization ceremony on Jan. 17, 2020, in Cleveland. But this is not the narrative for all, as thousands of Iraqis still wait in limbo, dreams clutched tightly in their hands, for their turn to live the American dream.

Take, for instance, Ammar Rashed. His stack of letters from U.S. troops attest to his work during some of the most treacherous days of the Iraq War. Yet, half a dozen years after he applied for immigration, his plea remains unanswered. “You don’t have to keep me and my family suffering for, for years waiting,” said Rashed, clearly frustrated, during a Skype interview from Jordan, where he currently resides. What’s holding back the wheels of fate for Rashed and thousands like him? 🤷

To put it bluntly, the answer is as complex as the questions themselves. A combination of factors has put brakes on the immigration process—attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, a data breach of a refugee database, the COVID-19 pandemic, and policy changes under different U.S. administrations have all played their parts.

To add to this already convoluted scenario, applicants often face challenges in proving their ties to the U.S., leading to further delays. For example, Mohammed Subhi Hashim al-Shafeay and his family have been in limbo for twelve years, living as refugees in Jordan, as he struggles to document his work for a U.S. security contractor at the Iraqi Justice Ministry. And therein lies the conundrum—how do you prove your worth when the proof is buried in the sands of a war-torn land? 😕

Despite all these hurdles, there is a glimmer of hope. The U.S. State Department has admitted that more staff have been added to speed up visa processing. Also, the embassy in Iraq’s capital, which was closed for three years following a 2019 attack, reopened limited consular services last fall. But is this enough? Or is it too little, too late?

Even as these questions loom large, Rashed, al-Shafeay, and countless others cling to their dream of making a home in America. Danger looms over their heads in Iraq due to their involvement with American forces during the war. Their current residence, Jordan, doesn’t promise a future for their children. So, the U.S. stands as the beacon of hope, a lighthouse in their stormy journey.