POSTED: 4:36 pm PDT August 20, 2008
SNOHOMISH, Wash. -- A 5-year-old Iraqi boy who came to the United States in 2006 after he was shot in the face by insurgents has won asylum and can remain with his foster parents in Snohomish.
Muhammed "Hamoody" Jauda, 5, suffered persecution in Iraq, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acknowledged. Steve Miller, a Seattle-based attorney who took on his case for free, presented witness accounts and other evidence showing that the Shiite boy and his family were ambushed by Sunni insurgents in Iraq in May 2005.
"I was laughing, being so happy," Hamoody told The Herald of Everett.
Hamoody was 2 years old at the time, and he was blinded and disfigured in the attack. His uncle was shot to death; his mother was shot in the head and spine; and his cousin was shot in the leg. They were denied treatment at a Baghdad hospital because Sunni insurgents threatened hospital staff.
Healing the Children, a Spokane-based nonprofit organization, brought the boy to Washington in 2006 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, said his foster mother, Julie Robinett Smith. She said his parents wrote a letter to support his application to stay in the U.S.
"This is what they wanted," she said. "It's very bittersweet."
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 has big ambitions, after all. In May, he said he hoped to become an ice cream truck driver so that he could eat all the ice cream, but now he says he hopes to become an astronaut.
"I can change jobs," he said. "I can do everything I want."
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