Knock, Knock. Who’s there? An immigrant. An immigrant who? An immigrant . . . that’s why I knocked. — The author.
When I swore my naturalization oath, I pledged allegiance to the American flag and to what my late father always referred to as, "America, the land of the free and home of the brave."
We were an Iraqi family of 23, including eight young children, who immigrated through Syria and Jordan, and finally resettled safely in America in 2008.
For every new country we requested permission to enter; we did so we abiding its laws.
For example, when we arrived at the Syrian-Jordanian border and presented our documents, the Jordanian government refused us entry. We were forced to stay away from the border in the Syrian desert for more than 13 hours, in freezing weather.
After receiving the green light from the U.S. Consulate in Baghdad, we attempted to return to the Jordanian border again.
We were allowed to enter thanks to former Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was informed that my family had arrived in Jordan, and our refugee applications were promptly processed.
I will always be grateful for the assistance provided to me, and to my family — as refugees.
I am also grateful for the opportunity to serve the U.S. Department of State in Baghdad, and to support U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling and his team working on open-source intelligence gathering, for the purpose of supporting the U.S. mission in Iraq.
To support the U.S. mission as my first job after graduating from Baghdad University with a degree in English language and literature was a dream come true.
My family supported the U.S. mission with big dreams to make a better future for Iraq.
However, Iraq was then a war zone.
It came with great costs to achieve our dreams in a hostile environment.
As a result of our commitment to support America in liberating Iraq from tyrannical rule, my family was repeatedly threatened. My oldest brother was assassinated.
As I shared in my previous column, one week later, my father died of cardiac arrest; at this point, our family being actively targeted, the decision was made to seek refuge.
During these difficult life experiences, my family and I learned to share our core principles with each other, which helped us to survive these difficulties.
We were seeking not only for hope and a dream in America, but for the equality and justice we had been denied under authoritarian rule. We earned these blessings through service, loyalty, commitment and respecting the rules for legal immigration to America.
We felt blessed, protected, and grateful to the U.S. government when we were granted permission to resettle in this great nation. By following the rules, we legitimized our American citizenship and our loyalty to this country, its flag — and its Constitution.
Being born in Iraq, a nation which is known as the cradle of civilization, this writer can speak to the fact that it has endured long-term dictatorship, wars, series of insurgency, bombings, and decades of civil unrest — due to sectarian divisions among its people.
Iraq's vulnerability gains immediate advantage by opportunists like Iran and its proxy militias within Iraqi government, rather than being guided by consistent principles of its constitution and or a principled leader to unite the nation.
As an immigrant who appreciates the rule of law in America; as an American mother who seeks to educate and inspire my children about our own family story, I find the expressions "legal immigrant" and "illegal immigrant" to be divisive.
When you associate the word immigrant with both "legal" and "illegal," you discredit the great stories of immigrants who enter America and play by the rules.
Those violating the rules and the law entering illegally should not be called immigrants.
Many in the Biden administration appear to encourage this confusion because it benefits them politically to generalize the concept of immigration; what it does is further divides our people.
- Why should our government look to both "legal immigrants" and "illegal immigrants" the same way?
- Why should both be entitled to the same rights, when "illegal immigrants" broke rules and laws, while we followed both?
- What are we teaching our children here?
- Is this justice?
Permitting or encouraging rule- and law-breaking opens our beloved nation to criminals and opportunists.
This hardly serves as the model for the land of the free and home of the brave.
Our children should know that behind every immigrant’s entry into this country there is a success story, one inspring us, and moving us forward as a nation founded by immigrants.
Each attempt to break those codes which guide us, on the other hand, creates a hostile environment — one destabilizing our sovereignty.
I hope and pray that America remains the land of opportunity and dreams.
Our freedom was earned, and our justice was granted through life sacrifice, loyalty, dedication, and fighting for the principles underlying our Constitution.
It is that Constitution, and those shared principles, that keep us united as "one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Mrs. Al Saadi is the Co-Founder and Executive Vice Chairman for PACEM Solutions International LLC. Mrs. Al Saadi is a refugee from Iraq and now a naturalized American citizen. Read Rana Al Saadi's Reports — More Here.
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