After the first Gulf War, Iraq became such a lawless land that Ahmed Alrawi’s father was kidnapped right from the family garage in full view of his terrified mother. After his mother paid the kidnappers $80,000 in exchange for his fathers’ freedom, the Alrawi family moved to Dubai in 1992.

After four years of extreme vetting by 15 different U.S. agencies which included the FBI and CIA Ahmed was granted lawful permanent U.S. residency (also known as a green card) in 2014 according to Ahmed. 

Ahmed married since landing in Orange County. He enjoys a thriving international architectural business which includes frequent trips back to Dubai. 

With his life’s savings of $139,000 about to go toward his down payment, Ahmed opened escrow less than two weeks ago for the purchase of a $695,000 Mission Viejo home. He and his wife were very excited about the home they were about to call their own.

President Trump’s executive order temporarily denying individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries into the U.S. triggered Ahmed’s brother (also a lawful U.S. resident of Iraqi origin) to be detained at LAX last Sunday after arriving from Dubai according to Ahmed. 

Scary stuff. With his brother still in U.S. custody on Monday (he was released on Tuesday), Ahmed gave his real estate broker the order to cancel the escrow.  “When you are uncertain about the future, it’s the worst,” said Ahmed.

There are about 500,000 Muslims in southern California with a high concentration in Orange County, according to Malek Bendelhoum, associate director of the Islamic Shura of Southern California. 

Will President Trumps order cause Muslims to leave? “Some are preparing for the worst. I think its wait and see,” said Bendelhoum.

Maybe President Trump had a good reason that he’s not disclosing for this bombshell executive order. Maybe he didn’t. Either way, if this executive order is a one-time event, real estate transactions go on as usual. If something like this happens again, we will see a variety of immigrants pack it in and get out of Dodge. 

Newcomers from across the globe will replace those who leave, swooping in to fill the vacuum.

As far as home financing goes, the U.S. makes it easy for foreign nationals to work here and qualify for conventional and FHA home loans so long as they have the proper VISA.

For good measure, and with a minimum of 25 percent down, Angel Oak Home Loans will accept verified foreign income to qualify so long as the nonresident alien has a valid and current work VISA in good standing according to Eric Morgenson, its director of business development. No social security number. No U.S. income needed.

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Jeff Lazerson - Mortgage Columnist since 2011