Pro Bono American lawyers working in Iraq

I came across this the other day and don’t know its full import, but throw this out to those of you following the Iraqi refugee issue.   I was surprised to see such a large effort going on behind the scenes to get Iraqis here (and it doesn’t sound like they are focusing on the truly persecuted Christians!).   My atennae went up when these immigration lawyers called their work a “paradigm shift in refugee resettlement.”

The violent complexity that is Iraq includes professionals now fleeing their country in fear of tormentors who consider the assistance they gave American lawyers and other U.S. government officials in Baghdad during the trial of Saddam Hussein to be a holy crime, akin to that of collaborating with Christian crusaders of centuries past.


Until the cause of the tormented became the pro bono passion of attorneys Eric A. Blinderman of New York and Christopher Nugent of Washington, D.C., these Iraqi refugees were left to the common cruelties of the Middle East and a painfully slow response to their plight from the U.S. government.


“If I may say so, we’ve created a paradigm shift in refugee resettlement,” said Mr. Nugent, 40, senior counsel with Holland & Knight’s community services team and a veteran immigration lawyer.


By a combination of law and custom, he explained, refugees are not allowed to have attorneys present during their multiple interviews before a battery of officials, beginning with United Nations agencies and ending up with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.


“But we send correspondence, and it’s accepted,” said Mr. Nugent. “We’re not going to insist on our presence at interviews, but we are accepted as counsel of record. We prepare our clients for these interviews.”


Mr. Nugent and Mr. Blinderman have, in turn, recruited a total of 100 lawyers from their respective firms to aid those trying to escape Iraq, and those detained by authorities in neighboring states where torture is common – Syria, Jordan and Egypt in particular.

As you read down the article you will see they also praise the Kennedy (Bring More Iraqis to American Sooner Than Later) bill that was likely signed into law by President Bush this week attached to the Defense Authorization bill.  *Note:  As of noon time (12/28), Fox News is reporting that Bush will veto the Defense Authorization Bill.

And, finally this sealed my suspicion that maybe this wasn’t such a good thing.  Referring to an Iraqi translator working for the lawyers, Blinderman is quoted:

Ibrahim’s salary, said Mr. Blinderman, is provided by an anonymous donor.

Who?  The State Department?  Volags?  CAIR?  Some Islamic “charity”?   Refugees International?  Ted Kennedy? The Saudis?  Grover Norquist or David Keene?    Actually I’m getting silly, but why can’t we know?   

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