Refugee family barely escapes Iraq during travel ban, makes home in Colorado

Denver woman opens up her house to family of four
Posted at 9:51 PM, Mar 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-09 00:45:00-05

DENVER -- Kicking a soccer ball around in the backyard of a home may not seem like a big deal to anyone in the U.S., but for family who just moved from Iraq to Colorado, the difference is striking. 

The family of four moved to the United States a month ago and barely made it to their destination in the midst of fallout from President Donald Trump's first travel ban.

"I quit my job, my wife also, the kids left school, I sold my furniture and my car and after I travel for two days they call me and say, 'your flight is canceled,'" said Mousa.

He worked as a translator with American and Iraqi forces for three years. His work was recognized by the U.S. government for helping open police stations and translating for more than 600 troops.

Mousa took the job in hopes of coming to the U.S. and wanted the opportunity so bad he volunteered until he was eventually hired. Denver7 is not using his last name because his family back home in Iraq remains a target for terrorists. 

"I was like threatened many times because of my job as a translator," said Mousa. "Because of working with the US forces."

After his flight was canceled, Mousa used a large chunk of his savings to buy new plane tickets for his family before his Visa expired. He spent $4,500 and still didn't know if they would be allowed to enter the U.S.

"It was like gambling, you know, either this or this maybe they will say like, 'no you can't cross the borders' and I'll lose everything," Mousa explained.

During his trip from Baghdad to Denver, Susan Bailey received a call from Airbnb asking if she would be interested in hosting a refugee family. Mousa, his wife and two kids arrived at her home less than 24 hours later.

"You know, it’s been unbelievable, we just felt it was the right thing to do. We felt we had a place for a family to stay and we wanted to share it," said Bailey.

The entire community has stepped up to welcome their new neighbors. Mousa's hosts helped him find a job and enrolled his kids in school. He rides the bus to Lafayette every day to work at a tech company doing warehouse support and product testing. He has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.

"This experience has just reinforced the positive in our county, in our people, in our neighbors," said Bailey.

When Bailey looked into finding permanent housing for the refugee family, a man offered his rental to them at a price well below market value. The home is less than two blocks from Bailey and Mousa's family will be moving in this weekend.

"I’m blessed, I’m lucky and all these things make me to be very happy," said Mousa.


Sign up for Denver7 email alerts to stay informed about breaking news and daily headlines.

Or, keep up-to-date by following Denver7 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.