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IRAP in USA Today: Refugee advocates express concern over slowing resettlement of Iraqi refugees

IRAP Director Becca Heller and other advocates met with the Deputy National Security Advisor to discuss the “dramatic” slowing of the resettlement of Iraqi refugees, a USA Today story reports. In 2009, two Iraqi men who were resettled in Kentucky as refugees were arrested for allegedly plotting to send weapons and money to Al-Qaeda, prompting the Obama administration to “re-examine our vetting process for this population and really all of the refugee population,” a senior White House official said. The administration implemented far more stringent security checks and took steps to re-vet more than 57,000 refugees already in the U.S.

The result? “After more than 36,000 Iraqi refugees were resettled in the U.S. between October 2008 and September 2010, only 9,400 refugees were resettled here the following year. In the last three months of 2011, only 826 Iraqi refugees have been resettled in the United States,” according to the story. More than 29,000 Iraqis referred for resettlement are waiting for their clearances, including Iraqis who risked their lives to serve as interpreters and advisors to U.S. troops and diplomats during the war.

Becca Heller met with Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Denis McDonough to discuss the issue. Heller said that McDonough told her and other advocates that the administration has an obligation to ensure national security, but also acknowledged the advocates’ frustration.

“He told us that the issue was getting attention at the highest level, but they don’t know when it will be resolved and they don’t know if we’ll love what their resolution is,” Heller said.

Read the full story here.