- Associated Press - Saturday, August 9, 2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) - About 3,000 Iraqis have resettled in the San Diego region in each of the last seven years, and some are preparing for more arrivals if the U.S. grants asylum to Christians displaced by insurgents being pummeled in strikes from U.S. fighter planes.

Iraqis who settled in the area in the 1990s after the Persian Gulf War are believed to number more than 60,000, mostly Chaldeans, U-T San Diego reported Saturday (https://bit.ly/1ublCtQ ). The area is home to one of the nation’s largest communities of Iraqi immigrants after Detroit.

“If something is worked out, I would suspect that San Diego would be a destination because of the large number of Iraqi Christians and Chaldeans that are already here,” said Bob Montgomery, executive director of the San Diego office of the International Rescue Committee. “The situation is very fluid right now, but I would think it would be in the hundreds of additional people.”

Mark Arabo, a leading figure in the San Diego Chaldean community, travels to New York Wednesday to petition the United Nations for help with displaced Iraqi Christians.

“We want to work with local leaders in places like Switzerland and Australia and in this country to see where is the best place to go,” Arabo said.

President Barack Obama on Thursday authorized airdrops of humanitarian supplies to stranded religious minorities in northern Iraq and aerial bombardments of Islamic State targets.

“It’s been an incredible roller coaster,” Arabo said of his efforts to persuade congressional and administration officials to take action in Iraq.

The 31-year-old married father, who also heads the Neighborhood Market Association, which lobbies on behalf of independent grocery retailers and the food and beverage industry, said he doesn’t want the U.S. to have to put any more troops into Iraq.

Arabo said he sensed a breakthrough with the president and his advisers to take action at the end of July.

“We knew then that we had his (Obama’s) ear and we awaited his pen.”

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Information from: U-T San Diego, https://www.utsandiego.com

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