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Some Chick
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 9:22 pm    Post subject: Iraqis who helped U.S. now find door to America closed Reply with quote
International Herald Tribune
Iraqis who helped U.S. now find door to America closed
By Sabrina Tavernise and Robert F. Worth
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
BAGHDAD

With thousands of Iraqis desperately fleeing this country every day, advocates for refugees, and even some American officials, say there is an urgent need to change American policies limiting the number of Iraqis who settle in the United States.

Until recently, the Bush administration had planned to resettle just 500 Iraqis this year, a mere fraction of the estimated 60,000 to 90,000 Iraqis now fleeing their country each month. U.S. State Department officials say they are open to admitting larger numbers, but are limited by a cumbersome and poorly funded UN referral system.

"We're not even meeting our basic obligation to the Iraqis who've been imperiled because they worked for the U.S. government," said Kirk Johnson, who worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Falluja in 2005. "We could not have functioned without their hard work, and it's shameful that we've nothing to offer them in their bleakest hour."

Senator Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat who is taking over the immigration, border security and refugee judiciary subcommittee, plans hearings this month on the United States' responsibility to help vulnerable Iraqis. An estimated 1.8 million Iraqis are now living outside Iraq. The pace of the exodus has quickened significantly in the past nine months.

Some critics say the Bush administration has been reluctant to create a significant refugee program because to do so would be tantamount to conceding failure in Iraq. They say a major change in policy could happen only as part of a broader White House shift on Iraq.

"I don't know of anyone inside the administration who sees this as a priority area," said Lavinia Limon, president of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a private refugee resettlement agency based in Washington. "If you think you're winning, you think they're going to go back soon."

For Iraqis, a tie to the United States is a life-threatening liability, particularly in harder-line Sunni neighborhoods. In 2003, Laith, an army interpreter who would allow only his first name to be used, got a note threatening his family if he did not quit his job.

His neighborhood, Adhamiya, was full of Baath Party loyalists. A month later, his father opened the door to a stranger, who shot and killed him.

Laith's mother begged him to stop working, but his salary, $700 a month at the time, supported the entire family. Then someone threw a grenade at the house. Graffiti appeared on a wall in ugly black paint accusing Laith of selling information about insurgents to the military. Laith and his family moved out of the house. Soon after, it was broken into and photographs of him with American soldiers were found in a family photo album.

"They know me," he said, sitting in one of Baghdad's hotels because his family would not allow a Western reporter inside the house. "They know when I come and go."

Many Iraqis who worked for Americans have already fled the capital or the country and many plead for help or asylum every day. Of about 40 nationalities seeking asylum in European countries in the first half of 2006, Iraqis ranked first with more than 8,100 applications, according to the UN.

Remarkably few apply for refugee status in the United States, mainly because most Iraqis, even those who have worked for the U.S. government here, simply assume that getting American status is all but impossible. Iraqis cannot apply directly for refugee status in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Another interpreter, Amar, who did not want his full name used, went to at least 10 embassies during a trip to Jordan last autumn, but found only blank faces. He counts his sacrifice for America in bones and skin. He is missing a finger, an eye and part of his skull, after a large bomb exploded next to his Humvee last year. He has received two threats to his life. Two bodyguards accompany him everywhere. He stays in three different houses to confuse potential attackers.

"They said they have nothing for Iraqis," said Amar, sitting in a small house in western Baghdad. "We feel just like stupid trash."

Until recently, the administration did not appear to understand the gravity of the problem. State Department officials say they are now open to increasing the number of refugee slots the administration formally requested for Iraqis in September. That request already allows for as many as 20,000 more refugees from unspecified countries.

But advocates for refugees say that such an increase is unlikely if no special measures are taken, namely designating Iraqis as a group in peril and formalizing a system for receiving them.

Ellen Sauerbrey, the assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, said the United States was hoping to identify the most vulnerable Iraqi refugees but was also dependent on the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to do that.

Officials at the UN refugee branch acknowledge that they have moved slowly in identifying refugees, largely because of procedural obstacles and lack of money. The agency's budget for Syria last year was $700,000, less than $1 for each Iraqi refugee in that country. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said in October that its Iraq program was $9 million short and that some employees were going without salaries.

The State Department spent $35 million on Iraqi refugees in Iraq and the region in 2006. The United States spends approximately $8 billion a month on the war.

But there is no legal requirement for the United States to rely on the United Nations. It has run its own programs in the past, notably in Southeast Asia. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese were ultimately resettled in the United States after the American withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975. In that instance, a number of aid groups in neighboring countries divided up the work of interviewing and assessing refugees, a system Limon and many other advocates for refugees are pushing for Iraqis today.

The United States has even run similar programs in Iraq, helping to resettle about 40,000 Iraqi refugees in the United States and other countries after a failed uprising against Saddam Hussein in 1991. In 1996, about 6,500 Iraqis who had links to an American- sponsored coup attempt against Saddam were granted asylum.

The Bush administration suspended resettlement of Iraqi refugees after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and it did not resume until April 2005, after the process had begun for other Arab countries.

A total of 198 Iraqis were resettled in the United States as refugees in the fiscal year of 2005, and 202 in 2006, but most were in the pipeline before the 2003 invasion, and few of the cases address the increasingly dire situation for Iraqis today.

Robert F. Worth reported from New York.

International Herald Tribune Copyright 2007 The International Herald Tribune | www.iht.com
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JesusLopezViejo
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I could have guessed we wouldn't hold up our end of the bargain...As my friends and I say..."This is why the terrorists hate us.."..
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Some Chick
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I posted this as a bulletin and someone responded with "why do you hate the military?"
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jusdeadphunky
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Some Chick wrote:
I posted this as a bulletin and someone responded with "why do you hate the military?"


haha...did you delete them?
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chevydriver1123
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Some Chick wrote:
I posted this as a bulletin and someone responded with "why do you hate the military?"


How the hell could someone draw that conclusion?
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Some Chick
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
jusdeadphunky wrote:
Some Chick wrote:
I posted this as a bulletin and someone responded with "why do you hate the military?"


haha...did you delete them?


No, we argueed about it and they apologized
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Some Chick
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
chevydriver1123 wrote:
Some Chick wrote:
I posted this as a bulletin and someone responded with "why do you hate the military?"


How the hell could someone draw that conclusion?


good question. Question
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Lester
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
JesusLopezViejo wrote:
I could have guessed we wouldn't hold up our end of the bargain...As my friends and I say..."This is why the terrorists hate us.."..


Agreed, it's no surprise that enemies target the very people who promised to get them out of that sort of lifestyle.
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Docsmitter
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Some Chick wrote:
chevydriver1123 wrote:
Some Chick wrote:
I posted this as a bulletin and someone responded with "why do you hate the military?"


How the hell could someone draw that conclusion?


good question. Question


Both Bush Admin, and UN are to blame. = )
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