This AP story has been all over the news in the last couple of days. The title here is “Many Iraqis who aided US barred from refugee immigration program. ” So, if you just read the headline and read it through quickly you might conclude it’s your typical drumbeat story about getting Iraqi refugees here, now, and as fast as you can because it’s our duty (‘we broke it, we fix it’ story).
However, read more carefully, it turns out that there is a huge internal battle going on in the Bush Administration between the US State Dept. on the side of bring’em here now, and in large numbers, and Homeland Security that wants to make sure terrorists can’t get in as refugees.
Homeland Security is effectively blocking contract employees, like drivers, translators, technicians, from benefiting from the initiative by insisting they provide official U.S. references and sponsors before applying for resettlement, a more stringent standard than for direct hires and even those in the U.N. system, according to the officials.
Meeting that higher bar will be almost impossible for many whose work for private U.S. employers in Iraq ended months or years ago, the officials said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations between Homeland Security, which must vet all would-be Iraqi refugees, and the State Department, which wants to widen resettlement opportunities for Iraqi refugees.
The two agencies have been unable to reach a compromise and the issue has been referred to the National Security Council, although the matter may be resolved before that happens through legislation pending in Congress.
The reference here to legislation is the Kennedy sponsored “Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act” making its way through Congress attached to a Defense authorization bill. The issue has received much coverage and if you want to understand this potentially explosive issue, read our entire Iraqi Refugee category here.
Endnote: Reform idea! The concept mentioned above of finding sponsors and getting references for refugees is a wonderful idea for all those admitted from all Muslim countries, not just those from Iraq. How about if the “church” groups individually sponsored the Muslim refugees and worked to assimilate them to American culture.