State Dept. briefing on Iraqi refugees, Part I, “gosh I missed my flight”

On February 4th representatives of the US State Department, and the Department of Homeland Security held a joint press briefing on the Iraqi refugee situation and on the new “Kennedy” Iraqi refugee bill that President Bush signed into law last week.  We have posted on issues raised in that briefing here, here, and here.    However, there are several points  in the 14-page transcript that were not mentioned in the AP story or the Washington Post story for whatever reason.

As you have gathered from those previous posts,  the Administration is being bombarded by refugee advocates who contend that the process is too slow, so that is the context in which this press briefing is occurring.  

I’m going to post on the points I wish to make, the points the mainstream media isn’t mentioning, in small doses over the next couple of days, partly because I’m tired and I expect you don’t want to read a lengthy treatise.

This is Ambassador James Foley speaking about one of the reasons why the process is so slow:

There are no-show referrals, in other words, refugees who do not appear for pre-screening with our Overseas Processing Entity having been referred by UNHCR. There are no-shows for the DHS adjudication interviews. There are no-show departures. In other words, applicants who don’t appear at the airport to take their scheduled flight to the U.S. There are different reasons for the attrition. Some families return to Iraq at different points in the processing. Some applicants pursue both special immigrant visa and refugee processing at the same time and they ultimately opt for the SIV route. Some applicants treat the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program as a kind of a safety net and when the time comes to board the plane for the U.S., it turns out that they’re not ready to depart. And finally some applicants change their minds about wanting to resettle in the U.S.


The attrition shows up in our statistics. For example, our OPEs have been unable to locate 608 refugees referred to our program. There have been 227 no-shows for pre-screening – OPE pre-screening or DHS interviews or medical appointments. There were 104 no-shows for departure flights that had to be rescheduled, which takes a certain amount of work and of man-hours to accomplish. And there are 51 more who missed their first departure flights who still need to be rescheduled. And finally we’ve closed the cases of 25 individuals who did not show up at all for departure flights.

So, here is the question we keep asking over and over again?  If the refugees are in such desperate straits why would they walk out on this fabulous opportunity to come to America?    This is my partial answer:  The refugee industry is driving this.   Most Iraqis just want to go home, but the refugee industry requires warm bodies to fuel the business—no refugees, no federal grants and contracts. 

Refugee advocates, the volags and their lobbyists, want to return to the glory days when hundreds of thousands of refugees entered the US from Vietnam and later Bosnia in the wake of a war—a guaranteed steady stream of refugees assures that volag offices stay open and employees have steady salaries.   They need the faucet opened wide and flowing steadily.

 Oh, incidentally, all those missed flights mentioned above,  you, the taxpayers, are paying for them.

Walkersville, MD, still no decision, maybe today?

If you are one of our many readers following the Walkersville, MD issue involving a zoning change decision that would allow the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to build a convention facility on agricultural land adjacent to the town, here is the latest from the Frederick News Post.

When I attended the session on Tuesday evening I was struck by a couple of things.  First, I thought about the whole issue towns must address all the time and that is that increasing population, mostly fueled by immigration, is putting a strain on our quality of life.  Walkersville is struggling with traffic, open space, and especially water shortage problems.     One way to deal with all that is for the town itself, perhaps with citizens help, purchase the open space around the town. 

I also thought about the issue of an entire group of people from another culture moving lock, stock and barrel into a community where they have never had any presence and what a shock that is to the local people whose families have lived there for generations in many cases.    And, before readers on a racist witch hunt get all wound up, can you imagine if we started setting colonies of Americans down in the middle of say Saudi Arabia (or even Pakistan where the Ahmadiyya are from), all hell would break lose.  They wouldn’t just be discussing peacefully the ins and outs of zoning issues, whether the project was in harmony with the surrounding land use, they would be pulling out the long curved knives.

If you are new to this issue, follow all of our coverage here.

Update:  Notice just received:

Tomorrow night (Thursday, 2/7/2008) is a critical night.  It is expected that the Walkersville Board of Appeals will make its decision concerning the W-B-07-1 Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC) special exception request. Please plan to attend.  Those attending are expected to show respect to the Board of Appeals, Town Officials and staff and others in the audience.  Please refrain from outbursts or disruptive behavior.  Please remain quiet.  

  WALKERSVILLE BOARD OF APPEALS MEETING Walkersville Town Hall, 21 W. Frederick Street, WalkersvilleThursday, 2/7/2008 7:00 P.M