Refugees International: Bring the Iraqi Palestinians here now!

Refugees International an NGO (Non-governmental organization) that lobbies to bring more refugees to America is taking up the cause of Iraqi Palestinians caught at the border of Iraq.   The reason these Iraqi Palestinians were fleeing Iraq, according to a Brookings Institution report, is that they were favored by Saddam Hussein and he encouraged their residence in Iraq.  When Saddam met his fate, they fled their homes in an attempt to escape irate Iraqis who had been persecuted by Saddam’s regime.  In other words, it was payback, so don’t let them make you feel guilty, they were not fleeing American military action.

Recently a plan has developed to send 3000 of these Palestinian Iraqi refugees to Sudan—a decision which has really ticked off Refugees International and their ilk.   Bring them here they say: 

Approximately 34,000 stateless Palestinians have lived in Iraq since 2003. Since the beginning of U.S. military operations in Iraq, many suffered persecution at the hands of the Iraqi government and other armed groups. More than 3,000 fled to the Syrian-Iraqi border, where they live in makeshift tents in the desert with limited access to basic services. Syria refuses to allow them to enter its territory and only a few have been resettled, mostly to Sweden and Chile. Failure to act on the part of the U.S. government and other resettlement countries led UNHCR to sign a tripartite agreement with the PLO and the Government of Sudan that called for the relocation of this population to a neighborhood of Khartoum.

“We must not allow this vulnerable population to be used as pawns in a greater political game,” said Younes. “The U.S. government should acknowledge the vulnerability of this stateless population and resettle them here. It is appalling that Sudan, a country infamous for its violations of international humanitarian law, has stepped in to protect these people when the U.S. would not.”

To resettle this vulnerable population expeditiously, Refugees International urged the U.S. State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration to create a special category to process refugee applications. Any process should be held without prejudice to the Palestinians’ right to return to their homeland.

Note that the PLO has been involved in this.  I would like to know why rich Arab countries like Saudi Arabia can’t begin to resettle Muslim refugees into their Muslim country.  Or why won’t Muslim Jordan and Syria let them in?

If we take any (we probably will) lets make sure, as Judy suggested the other day, that they go to cities like Berkeley, CA!  What the heck, put all 34,000 in a city that loves the Palestinian cause.  Maybe the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society could get the government contract to do the resettling.

Bill would make special immigrant visas available for Tibetans

I haven’t been at this long enough—following refugee resettlement—so I don’t know if this is unusual.  Two Congressmen have introduced HR 6536 which would allow 3000 Tibetans to enter the US as refugees over the next 3 years.  See this news account.

Dharamsala, July 19: A bill to provide 3,000 immigrant visas to Tibetans has been introduced in the US House on Thursday.

U.S. Representatives George Miller (D-CA) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced the Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act on July 17 to provide 3,000 immigrant visas to long-staying Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal, according to a report by International Campaign for Tibet (ICT).

The Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act extends support by providing 3,000 immigrant visas to qualified Tibetans over a three year period, ICT’s report explained.

Why a special bill?   Each year the President determines what the ceiling will be for how many refugees will be admitted to the US, so it’s not clear to me whether bills like this one are attempts to add to the present ceiling of 80,000 for FY08, or are part of that 80,000.  It also strikes me that this is the State Department’s (really, the UN tells us) prerogative to choose which refugees we take and from where, and am now wondering if bills such as this are meant to tell the State Department what to do, or is it to stick a finger in China’s eye. 

A reminder to readers:  Refugees entering the US receive air fare loans, housing subsidies, food stamps, a case worker and other forms of welfare while immigrants entering the US through other means are basically on their own.  That is why there is such an interest in declaring someone a refugee.

HIV-positive immigrants will soon be on the way to a city near you

Some of you are asking what happened with the bill to open the door to HIV-positive immigrants.  Since I was away at the end of the week, I didn’t get all the details on final passage in the Senate of the $50 billion bill to provide funds to countries fighting HIV/AIDS and other diseases.  The bill passed the Senate with the section intact to lift the ban on HIV-positive immigrants to the US.   There are a few more legislative hoops, but last I heard it was on a fast track and expected to be signed by the President.

You can learn more (and get the gory details) about what happened by going to Blue Ridge Forum here.

If you are new to this topic, my previous posts are here and here.

Muslim immigrants and homeschooling

I’m cleaning out my in-box containing links to all sorts of articles I missed over many previous months.  It takes a while because I’m finding all sorts of things I missed and am now reading!   Sorry to any reader who wrote to us and didn’t get a response—my in-box is a mess! 

Here is a blog report from way back in June that distracted me from my cleaning.  Homeschooling has been a part of our family for many years, so I especially found this enlightening and had been wondering just when Muslim immigrants and refugees would find the home schooling option in America.  I guess they have.

Referring to a New York Times article on Muslim homeschooling, blogger Martin Gaither comments:

In his article, MacFarquhar focuses mostly on Muslim immigrants in Lodi, California. The area is home to about 2,500 Muslims, 80 percent of whom are “interrelated” Pakistani villagers trying to “recreate the conservative social atmosphere back home.” One way of doing this is to shield their girls from American culture, especially once they hit puberty. Of the 90 South Asian girls in the district, 38 are homeschooled (in contrast to only 7 of the 107 boys).

MacFarquhar interviews two of the homeschooled girls and finds that they are being kept home so they will be able to “cook and clean” for their “male relatives” and also to avoid being shunned by others in the community. One of the students remarked, “Some men don’t like it when you wear American clothes – they don’t think it’s a good thing for girls.” Eventually, the girls are “married off, often to cousins brought in from their families’ old villages.”

Read the whole post here.  He goes on to pose the question about Muslim home schooling becoming a way to avoid assimilation but also to raise jihadis.

I’m wondering, where did all the Pakistanis come from?   I just checked the databases and the Refugee Resettlement Program has only admitted less than 100 Pakistanis in recent years.  I would like to know through which immigration program they are entering the US.

Utah refugee coordinator speaks the hard truth—too many refugees

The director of Utah Refugee Services spoke to KCPW radio earlier this week about the problems he sees with the large number of refugees being resettled in Utah from cultures that are very differant than refugees of the past.

(KCPW News) Utah’s refugee services are not well-equipped to handle the large number of refugees being resettled in the state, says Gerald Brown of the new State Office of Refugee Services. But he remains confident the problems will be fixed.

The biggest challenge to the system is tracking refugees after their social service benefits end, Brown says. While the number of refugees has declined since the 80s and 90s, they now require more services, Brown says. Twenty years ago, refugees were mostly Russian or Bosnians. While different cultures, they were still based in Western philosophy. Now, many are from Africa, Asia and the Middle East and their cultural differences are greater. Integrating into the social fabric of Utah is more difficult for them, Brown says. But it is vitally important for the community that they do, he says. 

Unfortunately I can’t get the radio program to play, but maybe some of you will be luckier.  I would love to have heard what else he said.

Indeed Utah is having a lot of problems with refugees with certainly the saddest case being the one of the 7-year-old Burmese Karen girl’s rape and murder a few months ago.  She was killed by another refugee in the apartment building in which she lived.   Only now are those refugees venturing forth from their apartments.  See the latest at the Salt Lake City Tribune here.

For more on Utah, use our search function for ‘Utah’.  We have written many posts on the state.