Iraqi boy wins asylum request

SNOHOMISH — At last, the boy found a home.

Muhammed “Hamoody” Jauda, 5, on Monday got political asylum that will let him stay legally in America. The boy was brought to Snohomish in May 2006 after being shot in the face by Iraqi insurgents.

Now, Hamoody can live permanently with his foster parents, Randy and Julie Robinett Smith, in Snohomish. In a year, the boy can apply for a green card. At 18, he can apply for citizenship.

“I was laughing, being so happy,” said Hamoody, who was blinded in the shooting.

He was granted asylum because U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acknowledged he suffered persecution in Iraq because of specific reasons including race, religion, nationality and political opinions, said Steve Miller, a Seattle-based attorney who worked pro bono on behalf of the boy. Miller presented witness accounts and other forms of evidence to show officials how the Shiite boy and his family were ambushed by Sunni insurgents in Iraq in May 2005.

“We got enough detail,” Miller said.

In the ambush, Hamoody lost his right eye, and his left eye became blind. He was 2 back then. His uncle was shot to death. His mother was shot in the head and spine, and his cousin in a leg. The Shiite family was denied treatment at a Baghdad hospital because Sunni insurgents threatened hospital staff.

In 2006, Hamoody came to Snohomish through Healing the Children, a Spokane-based nonprofit organization, to receive medical treatment.

Hamoody has received two reconstructive surgeries to improve his disfigured face after doctors determined that he will never regain his eyesight.

In Snohomish, his plight has drawn media attention and support from many people, Julie Robinett Smith said.

The Smiths recently obtained guardianship to raise him. They want him to do well in school, go to college and make something out of his life.

“He is an exceptional kid,” she said. “He can’t be lazy.”

Hamoody’s conditional visa expired in May and he applied for asylum this summer.

Hamoody’s parents in Iraq wrote a letter to support their son’s application to stay in America.

“This is what they wanted. It’s very bittersweet,” Robinett Smith said.

Hamoody is dreaming big.

“I want to be an astronaut so that I can go to the moon, Mars and all the planets,” he said.

In May, Hamoody said he wanted to become an ice cream truck driver so that he can eat all the ice cream.

“I can change jobs,” he said. “I can do everything I want.”

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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