Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Crocker denounces U.S. handling of Iraqi refugee processing

The Iraqi refugee issue was not given high priority during last week’s congressional hearings with General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. However, according to an article in Monday’s Washington Post, the subject is likely to be more thoroughly discussed when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with the congressional leaders this week to outline the administration’s refugee admissions goals for 2008 and when the Senate resumes its Iraq war debate.

Crocker was critical of the slow pace of the refugee processing in a recent State Department cable entitled, “Iraqi Refugee Processing: Can We Speed It Up?”

Today about 2 million Iraqis are displaced within their own country, and 2.2 million more have fled to neighboring countries. Every month, 60,000 Iraqis have to flee their homes.

Crocker warned that, according to the article, “it may take the U.S. government as long as two years to process and admit nearly 10,000 Iraqi refugees referred by the United Nations for resettlement to the United States, because of bureaucratic bottlenecks.”

The process so far has been very slow and the article notes that the State Department “has admitted just 829 Iraqis this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, and officials caution that they may admit only about 1,750 by the end of the year.”

1,521 Iraqi refugees have been admitted to the United States since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

Emilio T. Gonzalez, director of U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, wrote Crocker a letter stating that the ambassador’s cable “does not reflect an accurate picture of DHS’s [the Department of Homeland Security] commitment or performance to date.” He also disputed many of the ambassador’s points and blamed the State Department, which, according to the article, “has overall responsibility for the U.S. refugee program, and its partner agents, called Overseas Processing Entities.”

For full article, click here.



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