Presidential Candidate Martin O'Malley Hears Stories from Arab Refugees

Presidential candidate Governor Martin O’Malley met with recently resettled refugees during the Arab American Institute's National Leadership Conference #Yalla2016. Governor O’Malley met with Radhia Fakhrildeen, Moustafa Assad, and Noor Al Dabbagh to hear their personal stories and experiences of resettling in the United States.

Syrian refugees Moustafa Assad and his family resettled in Michigan from Turkey 10 months ago. After leaving Idlib, Syria by car to cross the border into Turkey, Assad and his three eldest daughters worked tirelessly in low-paying jobs to support the family. This past September has been the Assad children’s first time back at school in three years.

Noor Al Dabbagh discussed the ongoing difficulties she has had attempting to resettle her family in the United States from Iraq as asylum seekers. After her husband was kidnapped by a terrorist group in Iraq, Al Dabbagh an electrical engineer, and her family sought asylum in Troy, Michigan where her and her husband struggled to obtain work authorization permits. She hopes to begin working to support herself, her husband, and their two sons, ages 5 and 1. 

Radhia Fakhrildeen is a recently resettled refugee from Iraq. She is a mother of three and fomerly worked as an Arabic-to-English translator at a humanitarian organization. After receiving approval to resettle with her three children, Radhia was left with the difficult reality of her husband being rejected by UNHCR for resettlement. As she works towards reuniting with her husband who is currently in Baghdad, she is trying to make end’s meet in Michigan to support her family as a single mother.

Governor O’Malley was the first presidential candidate to support increasing the amount of Syrian refugees the United States admitted and set a numerical goal of 65,000. In a letter to President Obama, he wrote that welcoming 65,000 refugees is the rough equivalent of adding six seats to a baseball stadium that holds 32,000. By being the first candidate to call for the United States to do more, and by his private meeting with refugees, Governor O'Malley has consistently shown that he stands out as a compassionate leader in a crowded field.