I missed the earth-shattering AP news on Friday night when the end-of-month numbers came out (I caught the drumbeat sooner last month)—the Bush Administration admitted a smaller number of Iraqi refugees in November than in October. Wailing and knashing of teeth, the refugee industry and its minions in the press want to know how we are possibly going to reach the magic (albeit low still according to them) 12,000 Iraqi refugees to be admitted in this fiscal year.
WASHINGTON – The United States admitted only 362 Iraqi refugees in November, almost 100 fewer than in October, and far less than half the number it needs per month to meet a goal of 12,000 by the end of this budget year, according to State Department statistics obtained by The Associated Press on Monday.
In the first two months — October and November — of fiscal 2008, only 812 Iraqi refugees have been allowed into the country, meaning the Bush administration must now accept more than 11,000 over the coming 10 months to reach the target it has set for itself, the figures show.
You can almost hear the gasps of indignation and outrage.
The slow pace of admissions has sparked criticism from refugee advocacy groups and lawmakers.
[read Ted (bring’em to Hyannis) Kennedy]
Also on Friday, and missed by most, was a press statement released by the US State Department, a lengthy transcript of a press conferance jointly held by the State Department and Homeland Security in which the key players from each department lay out the the problems with identifying and processing Iraqis. See our previous post on the on-going controversy here.
The transcript is very long but I highly recommend reading the entire document to get a better feel for the issue. Although most of the press conferance focused on why the US government is not getting their admission numbers up, one stunning problem is with all the yapping about the millions of Iraqi refugees in desparate need, we are having problems finding enough cases to process and are going to do a “public information campaign” to find people to bring here according to Ambassador James Foley, Senior Coordinator on Iraqi Refugee Issues at the US State Dept.:
But just to say this is not snap your fingers and here’s 12,000, let alone more. It is going to be a — it will require a concerted effort month in, month out between now and the end of the fiscal year to reach our goal.
There was only sketchy information on the issue of security screening that is also slowing things down according to the refugee industry. But, here is what Foley had to say at one point:
…..we have an obligation, especially since September 11th, to apply rigorous screening, security screening to any refugees who aim to enter the United States. This is an obligation we have to the American people so that they have confidence in this program, because their support is critical to this program. Their welcome in communities around America is critical to this program. So that requires a very rigorous and yet streamlined procedure that we have now put in place.
So, Ambassador Foley, what is that “rigorous and yet streamlined” security screening? The communities receiving these refugees would sure like to know.