The Great Betrayal
They aren't planning on amnesty
Iraqi exodus could test Bush policy
Total expected to exceed quota for refugees
By Michael Kranish, Globe Staff | December 11, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homeland are likely to seek refugee status in the United States, humanitarian groups said, putting intense pressure on the Bush administration to reexamine a policy that authorizes only 500 Iraqis to be resettled here next year.
The official US policy has been that the refugee situation is temporary and that most of the estimated 1.5 million who have fled to Jordan, Syria, and elsewhere will eventually return to Iraq. But US and international officials now acknowledge that the instability in Iraq has made it too dangerous for many refugees, especially Iraqi Christians, to return any time soon.
Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of state for refugees and migration, said that while the Bush administration does not think resettlement is needed for most refugees, its policy could rapidly change.
"It is quite possible that we will in time decide that because of vulnerabilities of certain populations that resettlement is the right option," Sauerbrey said. While acknowledging that the administration originally set a quota of no more than 500 Iraqi refugees, she said the president has the legal authority to admit 20,000 additional refugees.
Eventually, specialists said, the number of Iraqi refugees settling in the United States could be vastly higher.
But few Iraqi refugees have yet to be allowed to resettle here, due partly to finger-pointing between the State Department and the United Nations over who is responsible for determining which Iraqis need to be resettled. Sauerbrey said she has been pleading with the United Nations to do its job of surveying refugees.
"We have not been getting referrals from [the United Nations]," she said, pointing to the office of the UN high commissioner for refugees. "They have got to do a better job."
Judy Cheng-Hopkins, the United Nations assistant high commissioner for refugees, responded to such criticism by saying that the UN needs more funding from the international community to identify possible refugees. But she predicted that the numbers would be large because most refugees now see little chance of returning to Iraq.
She said many want to settle in the West, including in the United States, because their life in Iraq "is pretty much gone."
In particular, more than 120,000 Christians who have fled Iraq are unlikely to go home and about 100,000 of them want to come to the United States, where many have relatives, according to a group representing the Christians. A great many of the estimated 1.4 million Iraqi Muslims also are expected to try to resettle, many in the West, according to UN officials.
"I think there will increasingly be a moral obligation on the part of the United States" to allow resettlement by Iraqis here, Dewey said. "That is the price for intervention. Similar to Vietnam, that obligation is just going to have to be fulfilled."
Let's be perfectly clear on this: if people worked for the Americans without permission from the militias or guerillas, they are going to be killed. We are talking anyone who had contact with the Americans, translators for the media, charity workers, even low level employees in the Green Zone.
The reaction of Iraqis to those who work for the US has been savage. Those people have almost no chance to live in a post-war Iraq.
Basically, we are going to have to take tens of thousands of people, at a minimum, in the US to save their lives
posted by Steve @ 10:12:00 AM