Following the increasingly common refrain—we broke it, we own it—19 Members of Congress earlier this month wrote to President Obama seeking his leadership in extending the deadline for the so-called Special Immigrant Visa program for Iraqis and Afghans who ‘helped us’ when we sought to give them a free country. I thought we succeeded, isn’t that why we can leave now?
Longtime readers may recall that the Special Immigrant Visa was created by an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act of 2008 (here is one post I wrote at the time). It was an amendment by Senator Ted Kennedy that gave the US government permission to grant Visa’s and give all the perks of the refugee program to certain qualified Iraqis. There was little debate and since the amendment was attached to a Defense Authorization bill, ol’ Ted knew that Bush had to sign it.
Now we have a bunch of bellyaching stories about how we didn’t fulfill our promise and bring enough of these people into the US. But, none of the stories tell the reader why we have some problems with the influx of Iraqis. First, remember that ‘shock-of-shocks’ we had a couple of Iraqis who went to Kentucky convicted on terrorism charges (here is one story on the case), so it has caused even the Obama Administration to vet the Iraqis more carefully. And, then the Iraqis who have come to the US are experiencing high levels of unemployment (46%) and of welfare use (95% on food stamps)! Some have even returned to the Middle East in disgust. But, you would never know about the problems from the news stories.
Here isTruthdig (yes, but only a part of the truth, LOL!).
We have brought ONLY 80,000 IRAQIS!!! Can you believe it!
….the U.S. 10 years later is loath to invite too many of our friends inside our borders. Of the 1.5 million Iraqi refugees who have fled the country, only about 80,000, or 5 percent, have been resettled here in the U.S.
The author goes on to tout how great Sweden has been compared to the US, but fails to mention that Sweden is now sending Iraqis BACK to Iraq.
Most Iraqi refugees, along with those internally displaced in Iraq, have received little attention from the nation that sought to bring them freedom. [Little attention?—ed]*
The Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) for Iraqi and Afghan civilians, created in 2008, were meant to expedite the process of resettlement for those who provided “faithful and valuable service” to U.S. efforts in the wars and who might face “ongoing serious threats” as a result of their actions.
Flawed criteria for admittance, coupled with technical difficulties many refugees face in the application process, have led to a dearth of visas. Of the possible 25,000 SIVs, only 5,500 have been issued. The program, which anticipated four times as many resettlements, expired at the end of fiscal year 2012, failing many applicants who have struggled to relocate themselves and their families. [They don’t tell you that many potential refugees have also heard the stories about the US menial labor or high unemployment rates and have had second thoughts about coming.—ed]
Earlier this month, 19 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to extend the program. They cited problems of inefficiency, lack of transparency and discrepancies between the Afghan and Iraqi SIVs—22 percent of the available Iraqi SIVs have been approved, but only 12 percent of Afghan ones have been issued.
Frankly, I don’t know how Obama has any authority to do anything, other than cheer these guys on. They have to write legislation and get it passed which surely they will do by sneaking the bill on as an amendment to another more important piece of legislation in the dark of night (like Kennedy did last time).
Here are the nineteen who want to bring more Iraqis to your towns who will be largely unemployed and in need of social services:
The members signed onto the letter are Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Andre Carson (D-IN), Jon Conyers (D-MI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) Chris Gibson (R-NY), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Frank Wolf (R-VA).
* Little attention! We have 564 previous posts on Iraqi refugees in our special category specifically for Iraqi refugee news, so I find Truthdig’s (Thomas Hedges, Center for Study of Responsive Law) suggestion ludicrous that little attention has been paid to Iraqi refugees!
Come to think of it, what ever happened to those Iraqis arrested on rape charges in 2012? One of them had helped US troops and an American soldier helped him get to Colorado?
Update: Here is a story I meant to post this past week about Iraqis struggling in California.