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El Cajon serves as the jumping-off point for the L.A. Weekly’s look into the growing hardships faced by Iraqis fleeing to the United States to escape war violence at home.
El Cajon is home to the second-largest population of Iraqis in the United States, after Detroit, and has seen an influx of new arrivals as refugees have sought asylum by arriving in Mexico and surrendering to immigration officers at the Tijuana border.
The piece explores how Obama, Bush, and NGOs have handled the refugee situation amid an economic crisis that has made money for resettlement scarce, and she offers an interesting look into the lives of several San Diegans who are struggling to make ends meet as the violence that uprooted them rages on.
A few blocks from the Iraqi supermarket, on a quiet street in a concrete apartment complex, Kamil Silewa is trying to make a new life in America. To get here, he fled death threats in Iraq in 2005, crossed many borders, worked endless dirty jobs, walked for days through Mexico to Tijuana, and spent eight months in prisonlike conditions at detention centers in San Diego. Finally, Silewa found safety in El Cajon. But not much else.
… “I still can’t sleep,” he says through a translator from the local Chaldean Middle Eastern Social Services office. “I am still thinking a lot about my family. What really makes it worse is that I’m not finding a job to support myself and to help my family [come here].” He and [his roommate] Denho, Silewa says, “both sit all night and just cry. I really want to cry just to release it.” Almost every night is the same, their American dreams just out of reach.
The Huffington Post also had this accompanying slide show.