Today the Herald Net announced that Everett will likely be an Iraqi receiving area in the new year. The story pretty much starts out in the usual template format for feel-good refugee stories, like this standard pitch about the plight of the Iraqis who worked for us.
“One of the most vulnerable groups is those people who have worked for the United States,” said Jacob Kurtzer, a congressional advocate for Refugees International in Washington, D.C. “If a man has been embedded with our troops, how can he then be a security risk?”
First, I just loved this newfangled terminology “congressional advocate”. Mr. Kurtzer is obviously a lobbyist for Refugees International whose job it is to keep the refugee flow flowing into US and thus keep the refugee industry alive. He is throwing out what he considers the most appealing argument to get ’em here soon, but the actual number of Iraqis “embedded with our troops” and seeking resettlement is minuscule, probably numbering less than 1000.
Every refugee, whether a teenager from Myanmar or an adult from Afghanistan, undergoes a strict screening process, Kurtzer said. The federal government’s claim that additional security measures were needed reflected a lack of political will to remove Iraqis from danger, he said.
Mr. Kurtzer, if we call your office in Washington, will you tell us exactly what the “strict screening process” is? We would really like to know!
I’m no fan of the the Bush Administration, but this statement suggesting that the Administration has some irrational “lack of political will” to resettle refugees demonstrates that Mr. Kurtzer does not know or is not saying that there has been an on-going internal battle within the government between the US State Department and Homeland Security on the security question. We reported this to you last week. It is not in Mr. Kurtzer’s best interests to let the citizens of Everett in on this bit of information.
This is what really caught my attention in the Everett news story:
It’s unclear how many Iraqis live in Western Washington, but those who live in Everett say their community numbers nearly 1,000 people and is one of the largest and most close-knit in the western U.S. Many of Everett’s Iraqis came here from Basra in the early 1990s, after they resisted Saddam Hussein during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and more trickled in early this century.
If more Iraqis come to Everett, the Iraqis who already live here will welcome them only if they have never been connected to Hussein’s Baathist government, al Ali said. “We have a good life here,” al Ali said. “If we know that somebody worked for Saddam, we’ll tell the FBI.”
We have asked in many previous posts in our Iraqi refugee category if we are just going to import thousand- year-old Middle East problems to America. Sooner or later we are going to find out.
By the way, Washington State has received 89,719 refugees between 1983-2005 according to Appendix A of the 2005 Annual Report to Congress. A quick look confirms that Washington State is the 4th largest refugee resettlement state in the US.