My name is Mohamed Alhammada. I am Syrian.
I came here in the United States in 2013 December for studying master’s in information technology. When I came in 2013 and my passport is expired — F1 student — and the school asked me to renew my passport and all the Syrian embassies are closed in the United States, in Canada, everywhere because this is a bad regime so also I am illegal and the school cannot accept me because I don’t have valid documents. So one of the teachers recommended me — you have good education, you have good skills, I see you are good for United States to become citizen for green card. I told her guide me. I will give you the letter — this is my teacher now in Texas — I will try to give you the letter of recommendation to immigration to change your status from F1 student to become permanent or asylum.
I took this letter and hired a lawyer and gave him around $5,000 to start the case. After six months, I got approved. So legally is okay. This happened in 2014 December. So that time I can work. But at the same, no organization, no anything can help me to find job to cover my rent or anything.
After I came here, already the war had started in Syria. But 2013, the war destroyed completely my city, Aleppo. I lost all the properties, all my money, all my family is spread out over the world; Germany, Turkey, and so on.
Nobody in Syria now. Twelve million refugees from Syria. All in Syria now only old man or or children or women.
When I came to the United States, I have cash from saving money. I spent all this money on tuition, rent, food, everything. After a while, nothing. What can I do in this situation?. I lost all what I have, money, I cannot survive. We cannot stay in the street. Especially, I was married, I have two kids and this reason it’s very tough for me how to cover my rent, food, with wife. My family was broken because of the situation. My wife returned back to her family in Saudi Arabia with my daughters. They cannot come back, especially my wife. She’s a visitor in Saudi Arabia. My family is actually now broken. Saudi Arabia cannot also unfortunately, accept to give me a visa. She got the visa because her parents are over there.
We decided to send them back to her family and start looking for a job because now legally I am okay. But if you try to travel to Saudi Arabia or any Gulf country, I will find issues. I go to Turkey only as visitor, but they don’t give you citizen or any agreement or something. They cannot give me any visa to enter that country because why the reason? I am Syrian.
Legally I am OK. I get a green card one year ago. But even this green card last time I came to visit my parents from Turkey, they hold me here in San Jose Airport and held me around two hours. “Why? Why are you going to Turkey? What are you doing there?” And make stress for myself and put me as I am criminal, I am bad man. I don’t know my mistake. After two hours, three hours, “Okay, how can you visit Turkey without your passport?” “This is a travel document issued from United States.” “No, this is not for going out of the United States.” “How? This is a travel document. The purpose of travel document is for travel.
They tried to accuse me; you are from Syria. I don’t know what he’s saying. After two hours, three hours, I think he checked up something and he released me. This happened exactly 10th October, 2017 here in the airport in San Jose.
I have authorization to work here in the United States. When it came to market, I was shocked nobody recognized my experience. I started working at the Uber. But unfortunately, I noticed all the passenger when I say my name is Mohamed, I am Muslim and give me feedback one star, two star. After two months or one month, Uber kicked me out because the rate is very low. I don’t know the reason. I tried to figure out and I discovered unfortunately, they know my name is Mohamed. Before Trump most of the people here in the United States is very kind, very helpful, was amazing. But I noticed here, even the environment here, in my current work when I tell people my name is Mohamed I notice most my colleagues try to stay away from me. Nobody say in my face, but I notice.
I thought this my name so I cannot change my name. I love my name. My name is Mohamed also at the same time this is my identity. I am man, I have human. The man or human must deal fairly and if he has bad manners, you can, but if he doesn’t do anything wrong, regardless of our nationality, regardless of our religion, we are the same.
My experience is in software engineering, how to manage software engineering, distribution. I am good experience, project manager, software engineer, long experience, huge experience, but I don’t find [unclear 00:00:53] a job to survive, after suffering many years. I have long experience in even the American company in Gulf, Saudi Arabia, with Germany, with the French on distribution, many organization, many million, but here the market in the United States the first requirement you have experience in the United States, if you don’t, nobody check. If you don’t graduate from a school in the United States nobody care. They have many requirements so I [unclear 00:09:41] start from zero. The fresh graduate is better from me because they get certificate from United States.
This country is a very nice country. The people as you mentioned, most of the people are very good, very nice, but my recommendation; not to listen to the media. The big issue here is the media. This is the big issue. I give you my experience. My name is Mohamed, I am Muslim, everybody is scared of me. But when you tell me you have a chance to get together, his mind changed immediately. And don’t talk long time. This is my experience here. Only first time is half chance to make any connection dealing in business, student together, project together they totally change their mind. And the people have very open mind and honest people, but the media give him bad image on all the Muslim.
Here in the United States I get a lot of skills and also I can utilize my previous skills to improve the economy, especially high tech here. But still I am seeking this opportunity. I need to find this opportunity to put my previous experience and my skills to improve and provide new solution for many problems here, regarding something that takes long time, especially in government. Also regarding the healthcare is very slow.
This is the big issue here in the country with people against immigrants, but not with all the people, no.
If they make connection with immigrants it will be better because most American people are every kind and very nice. But the media spreads bad news, not the right news about immigrants or Muslims and they get scared. We need to break the wall between us and these people. How can this make connection? We need to stay away our religions; I am Muslim, you are not Muslim. So my suggestion to start any activity between citizens and immigrants, exchange visits between the church or mosque, dinner together, lunch together, maybe football together, going to pitch together.
People to people. The first thing I would tell the man, any man, how can you decide if the man is a good. Based on his behavior, not based on his religion, not based on his color. Respect the constitution of the country. Yes, I love America also. Why I come here? I love America. But it doesn’t mean I am not good also. We need to build America again together, is my point.