Administration still slow bringing in Iraqi refugees (sound of snoring)

I came home last night to 7 Yahoo Alerts about the latest admission figures for Iraqi refugees.  I had to laugh, the stories were reported 2 hours and 10 minutes ago, 40 minutes ago, 1 hour and 5 minutes ago and so on.  This is how you do it—you absolutely bombard the public with the same story month after month after month and eventually there is movement.  It helps too to have a friendly Associated Press reporter!

I went back to this post I did at the end of October to see who the AP reporter was and unfortunately the link has expired, but I am sure it’s the same reporter, Matthew Lee, who had this to say last night:

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration conceded Monday it may not meet its goal to admit 12,000 Iraqi refugees by the end of September, although officials stressed that remained their target.

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While January admissions improved slightly over December, to 375 from 245, the United States must still accept 10,568 Iraqi refugees in the next eight months if it is to reach 12,000 — the number the administration has pledged to resettle in the current budget year, which began in October 2007 and runs until Sept. 30.

I’ll bet Mr. Lee is friendly with the refugee industry folks in Washington, perhaps lobbyists at Refugees International and he is poised and ready each month to take a whack at the Bush Administration.  However, when the October figures came out, Mr. Lee was on the story before the stroke of midnight.  This month he is 4 days late!

The administration has come under heavy criticism from advocacy groups and lawmakers for its poor performance on admitting Iraqi refugees who have fled violence since the 2003 U.S. invasion. Many critics say, and Bush aides have acknowledged, that the administration has a moral obligation to Iraqi refugees.

In fairness to Mr. Lee there is always an oblique mention that the security issues are not resolved and that problems exist trying to interview Iraqis in Syria, but it is always later in the story and the security problems are never explored in depth.

Despite improved cooperation between the departments of State and Homeland Security in refugee processing, admissions have lagged in part because of restrictions placed on interviewers, particularly in Syria……

As we reported just last week in addition to the magic 12,000 figure for Iraqis and in addition to the 70,000 refugee figure for the entire FY 2008, Congress sneaked through an additional 5000 Iraqis in the Defense Authorization bill signed by the President.