Sunday, September 23, 2007

No Friend Left Behind Update

[posted by Callimachus]

USAToday weighs in, editorially:

The problem, when it comes right down to it, is not intent but bureaucracy. Iraqis seeking to immigrate must navigate a Kafkaesque maze. Except for some employees at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, they can't apply in Iraq. They have to flee and join about 2 million Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries. They must then establish refugee status with the United Nations, which takes months. Finally, they must submit to separate rounds of interviews with officials from the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, which is looking out for would-be terrorists. That takes more months.

The story of one family that made it illustrates the problem. Translator Khalid Abood al-Khafajee, 60, managed to get to Jordan. He might have languished there for years but for a grateful U.S. Marine, Capt. Zachary Iscol, who credits Abood with keeping dozens of Americans safe in sometimes-tense situations. Iscol pushed Abood's case so relentlessly it became a focus of a congressional hearing. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., quipped that perhaps "1.7 million hearings would bring 1.7 million people out."

But the figures are no joke. The Bush administration was slow to recognize the refugee crisis, which undermines its assertions that the invasion was the right decision and that Iraq is on its way to stability. Since 2003, the United States has admitted just 1,232 Iraqi refugees. In February, the State Department promised to admit 7,000 by the end of this month. It reduced that to 2,000 but might not even achieve half of that.