July 06, 2008
Bring Us Your Poor, Your Tired, Etc., Unless They're Iraqi Refugees
The U.S. is currently patting itself on the back for admitting a whopping 6,480 Iraqi refugees to the U.S. since the start of U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, designed in response to the special needs of Iraqi refugees. While the admission of 4,872 Iraqi refugees to the U.S. this fiscal year is certainly an improvement over last year's total of 1,608, it's only a fraction of the 27,940 specially vetted referrals from UNHCR, let alone of the more than 4 million internally and externally displaced Iraqis.
What's the holdup in admitting Iraqi refugees? Well, in addition to the need to conduct individual interviews and determinations of whether applicants qualify for refugee status, which has always done for anyone applying for refugee status in the U.S., there have apparently been special difficulties with this group in determining whether they are a risk for that favorite scapegoat of insanely bureaucratic, complex, and ineffectual immigration programs, TERRORISM:
America's tradition of welcoming international refugees and responding to humanitarian emergencies is unrivaled. Yet we also must be mindful of the security risks associated with admitting refugees from war-torn countries – especially countries infiltrated by large numbers of terrorists. These enhanced screening procedures will help to ensure the continued security of our homeland while upholding this great tradition.
Why national security wasn't such a huge issue when the U.S. was admitting 70,000 Soviet refugees a year (many of them highly educated) during the Cold War, a period when the Soviet Union was ostensibly hell-bent on nuclear annihilation of the U.S., remains a mystery. And why the U.S. can't seem to get its bureaucratic act together to admit even the pitiful few thousands Iraqis the Administration have committed to admit, when there is precedent for admitting much larger numbers in a much shorter period of time, continues to mystify me. What happened to "you break it, you bought it"?
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They're not huddled, so they don't qualify.
Posted by: matthew hogan at July 7, 2008 01:39 PM
Funny, that's exactly what one State Dept. official (I think - don't have my sources in front of me right now) said was one of the difficulties in dealing with this population - for the most part they aren't in refugee camps, so it's harder to count them and keep tabs on them.
Posted by: Eva Luna at July 7, 2008 01:49 PM
I think the first question America should answer is what happens to those who have suffered harm directly because of the American invasion (those responsible might suggest intervention?) of Iraq and Afghanistan - not only those bombed and wounded, but also translators and informers, those working for the 'sons of Iraq' and 'Awakenings' movements, such as Abu Risha and others who've ended up in Syria and Jordan...
that America can use and throw away such people, especially tribal leaders with a grievance, charisma and organizing ability, might be recognized by DHS officials as a clearer link to future terrorism than bringing such individuals to America. foresight and (applied) intelligence have not been hallmarks of the DHS, as I'm given to understand, since they (the CIA and DIA) supported Hekmatyar and other radicals in Afghanistan in the 80s and 90s, and not Ahmed Massoud or Rabbani of the Northern Alliance...
Finally, as a Canadian and thus a citizen of the country implied by certain conservative (read xenophobic) Americans as being responsible for territorial threats to America (9/11 and ongoing infiltrations of terrorists) - I'd like to point out that it was the INS that sent student visas to Mohammad Atta and his associate at the Florida flight school *6 MONTHS AFTER 9/11* - not Canada or any of its officials. Maher Arar, as well, was tortured thanks to the questionable wisdom of American officials...
Posted by: dawud at July 8, 2008 02:30 PM
Some background allegation here.
"The former regime's wars with neighboring countries displaced around 1.2 million Iraqis over 40 years," he proceeded. "The displacement's second stage took place after 2003, due to the invasion," he explained.
"The explosion at the al-Askariya shrine in Samara on February 22, 2006, displaced around 240,000 families of different Iraqi components inside Iraq," he noted.
Posted by: matthew hogan at July 9, 2008 09:38 AM
dawud - by the way, there are some special U.S. immigration programs for Iraqis who have served for .S. forces as translators and interpreters, or have otherwise endangered their lives by working in support of U.S> forces. However, the numbers allocated and administration of these programs are likewise pitifully underwheling - the first program has an annual limit of 500 (!), and the second hasn't been implemented yet.
Posted by: Eva Luna at July 9, 2008 09:58 AM
Hot off the presses: details anounced to day for new Special Immigrant Visa program for up to 500 Iraqis a year who have worked for the U.S. government. To little, too late, even if they manage to actually process 5,000 people a year, but hey, t's at least a ittle bit better than nothing. And unlike most green card quota numbers, any quota allocations that aren't used up in the fiscal year for which they are allocated will be rolled over to the following fiscal year.
Posted by: Eva Luna at July 9, 2008 11:20 AM
something ate my link above; I think it's to here.
Posted by: matthew hogan at July 9, 2008 11:22 AM