News from the Week of July 29th

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Haeder Alanbki, who now lives in Orlando, was stabbed four times and shot at while serving with U.S. forces in Iraq. American soldiers serving with him said he was facing certain death back home and had a $25,000 bounty on his head. His brother, also an interpreter, was killed while serving. Haeder made it to the United States on a Special Immigrant Visa, and once here, hew was determined to become a citizen. At first he was denied the chance, but because his community stood up for him, his request was finally approved. His citizenship ceremony was held on Tuesday.  

Alejandra Juarez, wife of former Marine and Army National Guardsmen Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez, is being deported back to Mexico. Temo served with the Marines all over the world, including in Iraq, Albania, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South America. Under previous policies Alejandra remaining in the United States wouldn’t be a question, but as a result of stricter enforcement of immigration laws she was identified for deportation. “Alejandra deserves to stay in the country she has called home for over 20 years, the country her husband patriotically served as a Marine and Florida National Guardsman. The only country her two American-born daughters have known," said Representative Darren Soto (D-FL).

“HELP Those That Helped US,” read the t-shirts featuring a photo of Zalmay “Zee” Niazy—an Afghan interpreter who was targeted by the Taliban for serving alongside U.S. forces. After attending a conference in the United States, as he was preparing to return to Afghanistan, he received a grave threat from the terrorist group and decided to seek political asylum in the United States. Zee continues to pressure the U.S. government, specifically Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), to expedite his asylum claim, which has been in the works for 3 years. “It’s just frustrating and it really hurts,” Zee says. “I did whatever I could for the country and I would do it again and I am proud of what I did. I served the United States, plus my own country.”

Fifteen people were killed when the Islamic State in Khorasan attacked The Department of Refugee Affairs in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on Tuesday. The attack happened during a meeting of NGOs who were working on refugee-related issues. Among the civilians who were killed in this attack were members of the International Organization for migration, International Rescue Committee, and Madera.

Colorado Senate Bill 87, which will allow refugees and special immigrant visa holders to pay in-state tuition for higher education in the state will become law on Aug. 8. Steve Fenberg, Colorado State Senator says, “This law will help these people integrate into our communities and will also serve to make them more invested in the community that has given them an opportunity at a new life.” A special shout out to our Colorado VFAI Leaders, Travis and Maytham, for making sure this bill became law!