American dream still out of reach for local Iraqi family

Hana Alnaeeb, Iraqi Refugee
Hana Alnaeeb, Iraqi Refugee

They left their home in fear, and built a new life in Amarillo.   But for one local Iraqi family, fulfilling the American dream remains out of reach.

Hana Alnaeeb tells us she came to the US with four sons and 300 dollars in her pocket.  "To become a refugee means you've already escaped something terrible and so you're pretty resilient and we see that in the refugees that come here," says Lori Bigham with Catholic Family Service.

Seven years later, Alnaeeb is grateful to be living in Amarillo, but doesn't understand why the federal government won't grant her citizenship.  "Saddam hussein killed my husband and I far away from Iraq to come here for the freedom and everything and I hope to get a citizen. Why they refuse to give me? What happened? What happened?" she asks.

Alnaeeb says she passed the citizenship exam but was told the FBI is investigating her.. and she doesn't know why.  "I don't know what I do me or my family. If anything, come to ask me.. why you do that," she pleads.  She does know that without citizenship, she can't receive federal medical or financial benefits, and can't convince the government to let relatives stuck in Iraq join her in the U.S.

Two of her sons have gained American citizenship, but after a year and a half delay, the rest of the family keeps waiting, keeps hoping, theirs will soon follow.  Up to 200 refugees find new homes in amarillo each year, and seven thousand Iraqis are expected to come to the U.S. by September.

Iraqis are now the fastest growing refugee population in the world.