WWL: An Iraqi refugee recalls his long journey to Louisiana

Originally published on February 2, 2017 by WWLTV’s Caresse Jackson

Watch the full interview.

Showing numerous documents of working alongside Marines and combat teams, Ihssan Sharbar recalls his four years as a translator in his home country of Iraq.

“They were killing many interpreters, whoever worked with the U.S. forces,” Sharbar said.

A risk, he believes was his obligation, dreaming of freedom in his homeland.

“I really wanted Iraq to get rid of dictatorship,” Sharbar said.

His fight for freedom, however, proved risky.

Ihssan Speaks to WWL

Ihssan Sharbar

“I know two of my guys, they got killed, even though they quit working with the US forces for two years and they were still after him till they got him,” he said.

With only $1,000 and his wife and young son on his mind, Sharbar started his immigration process, going through not one, but three different, and often times, grueling interviews.

“They asked us about many things actually,” he recalled. “Even the names of our brothers and sisters, our parents. Even our first cousins.”

Three rounds of interviews, several medical exams and eleven months later, his family finally got approved to enter the U.S. in 2009. It took him five more years to become a U.S. citizen. It is a process and life so many people from his country die for, he said.

“I really feel lucky because, some people they had to go through borders and even they had to use the Mediterranean Sea, and even lost family members,” Sharbar said.

He now has two sons and is enjoying life in America, but admits adjusting to a new country and culture is challenging. However, it is a move he would not trade for the world.

“Those people who are coming to the United States, after the process of screening,” Sharbar said. “I can say that they are innocent people. Seeking peace. Seeking to live in a better environment.”

Sharbar now works at Catholic Charities, helping other immigrants and refugees immigrate to the country.