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Identity & Community

Pittsburgh Looks to Immigrants as Economic Development Tool

Photo courtesy of Ammar Nsaif

When Ammar Nsaif was eight years old, in Iraq, he often thought about his future wife and kids, and about the car, house and business he’d own.  As an adult, he became an electrical engineer and made his 8-year-old self proud. He said he had a reputation with family, friends, and neighbors as a doer, always working and growing his business. “I did very well,” Nsaif said.

He lost everything when he fled Baghdad suddenly, in 2006. Nsaif, 39, said he received a death threat from terrorists because of his work with an American company. They’d already killed an older brother.

“I thought, I'll be back to my country in one or two months, once everything is…safe,” he said.

Instead, he spent two years in Syria, two years in the Netherlands, and two years in Jordan before he and his family received refugee status and came to Pittsburgh.

“And that I think will have to be the last station,” he said. “I'm so tired, I'm done.”

Those words are music to Pittsburgh’s ears. Because Pittsburgh has a plan.

Read a full version of this report at the website of Keystone Crossroads, a new statewide public media initiative reporting on the challenges facing Pennsylvania's cities.


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