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IRAP and We Are All America Celebrate Restart of Direct Access Program for U.S.-Affiliated Iraqis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                     

March 2, 2022


IRAP: Spencer Tilger | | 646.761.2556

We Are All America: Andrés Bautista | | 623.826.3919


In January, Refugee Advocates Called on Biden Administration to Restart Program

(New York, NY) Last night, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced it will restart the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) Direct Access Program (DAP) for U.S.-Affiliated Iraqis (Iraqi P-2 Program). Created by Congress in 2008, the program is intended to provide a safe and legal pathway for Iraqis whose lives are at risk due to their affiliation with the U.S. government. However, the program has been burdened with extremely lengthy backlogs and delays since its inception and was officially suspended in January 2021, leaving more than 100,000 Iraqi allies in limbo.

In January, to mark the one-year anniversary of the suspension of the DAP, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and We Are All America organized a press call to urge DOS to restart the program and sent recommendations to the Biden administration. 

Sunil Varghese, Policy Director at IRAP, said:

“Refugee resettlement, and in particular the Iraqi Direct Access Program, is the only pathway to safety available to the more than 100,000 Iraqis who continue to live in danger due to their affiliation with the U.S. government. IRAP welcomes the announcement that DAP processing will resume, and we look forward to receiving more details to ensure the scale and speed of processing matches the need. Even before the suspension, significant delays and administrative hurdles prevented far too many Iraqi allies from getting to safety. The Biden administration needs to make significant investments in USRAP and provide transparency on what measures it will take to ensure cases move forward.” 

Basma Alawee, We Are All America National Campaign Manager at the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), said:

“As a former Iraqi refugee, I am thrilled to hear about the restart of the Iraqi Direct Access Program. The Iraqi P-2 program is a lifeline for the 100,000 Iraqi who have been in limbo since the program’s suspension. This is auspicious news, yet I am also anxiously awaiting more details regarding what the Biden administration has planned regarding rebuilding the U.S. refugee resettlement program. For the time being, I will remain hopeful of my Iraqi siblings’ fate and continue organizing for pro-refugee and pro-immigrant policies that fulfill the needs of our communities.”

An Iraqi client represented by IRAP, whose name is withheld for their safety, said during last month’s call:

“I applied to resettle in the United States as a refugee through the P-2 Direct Access Program for U.S.-Affiliated Iraqis because my work with the United States Army in Iraq put my life at risk, and I have been waiting seven years for a decision in my case. I have lost so much during these years: my home, my books, and most importantly, the ability to be with my wife and children through precious milestones in their lives. On behalf of myself, my family, and everyone else in my situation, I ask the Biden administration to fix this broken U.S. refugee program.”

Additional Information

Read IRAP’s recommendations for restoring the P-2 Direct Access Program for U.S.-affiliated Iraqis: HERE

Read IRAP’s recommendations for rebuilding the U.S. refugee program in 2022: HERE