News & Resources

Red Tape Leaving Iraqis in Deadly Limbo

About 30,000 Iraqi refugees – many of whom served with U.S. forces and contractors during the war – are stuck waiting for heightened security checks before they can be resettled in the U.S., according to a Washington Times story. Many of these former interpreters’ lives are in danger, and how the U.S. handles their cases will be noted by the world, experts say.

“Iraqi allies were the key to the success of the surge and our counterinsurgency strategy,” said Mike Breen, vice president of the Truman National Security Project and a founding director of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Program. “We must stand by those Iraqis who stood with us, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also for the sake of our national security and stability in the Middle East.”

RCUSA Advocacy Committee Chairwoman Melanie Nezer noted that heightened security clearances have drastically decreased the number of Iraqis admitted to the United States: in 2009 and 2010, about 18,000 Iraqis were admitted to the U.S. – in 2011, that number was nearly halved, to 9,388. Iraqi refugees now go through at least four security checks before they can be resettled.

In the meantime, Iraqis who helped the American government during the war are in grave danger, experts say, pointing to attempted assassinations, kidnappings, and murders of refugees waiting for security clearances.

The U.S. government has an obligation to expedite the screening processes for Iraqis who assisted American forces. Their service must be acknowledged. IRAP is committed to advocating on their behalf.

Read the full story here.