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Published: Wednesday, 8/1/2007

Iraqi refugees arrive at Detroit Metropolitan Airport


ROMULUS, Mich. - Asho Matti Hanna clutched a bouquet of red roses as she embraced relatives following her family's arrival Wednesday at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

The 56-year-old Hanna, who fled her homeland four years ago, is among a few thousand Iraqi refugees expected to resettle in the Detroit area after escaping the continued turmoil in their home country.

She and her husband, along with their three sons, ages 17-21, arrived on a flight from New York, where they recently traveled from Turkey. They had been living in that country after leaving Iraq in 2003.

"I am very happy," Hanna, who was tired from the long journey, said through a translator.

A large family dinner gathering was planned for later in the day in the northern Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights, where the family will be staying.

Along with Hanna's family, a sixth refugee, a 25-year-old biology student, also made the trip Wednesday and will settle in the Detroit area.

Another group of eight refugees was expected to arrive at Detroit Metro later in the day.

The White House in February said it would accept up to 7,000 Iraqis fleeing the fighting in their homeland to move to the United States by September. Since then, federal authorities said security checks have slowed the process of refugees coming to the U.S.

The six who arrived Wednesday morning were believed to be among the first few to come to the Detroit area, home to about 300,000 people who trace their roots to the Middle East.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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