Ten years after U.S. invasion, Iraq refugee crisis continues
NEW YORK 07 Mar 2013 - On the 10th anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq, Iraqis who risked their lives to protect and assist the U.S. military and civilian administrators are unable to leave the country because of inefficiencies in the visa program that was created to protect them, the International Rescue Committee said today. Worse, the IRC added, the Special Immigrant Visa program is set to expire this September even though it has not come close to fulfilling its obligations.
- The President must ask for an extension of the Special Immigrant Visa program beyond September and fulfill the obligations set out in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, and Congress should quickly extend the law.
- The Special Immigrant Visa program must be streamlined and strengthened to ensure that Iraqis who are in harm’s way have their pending applications processed expeditiously. The Administration must therefore work to clear the backlog of pending cases.
- The Administration and Congress must continue to support a robust refugee resettlement program. Additional resources are urgently needed to ensure that the Office of Refugee Resettlement can provide refugees, recipients of Special Immigrant Visas and other vulnerable populations under its care with the tools they need to re-start their lives. Refugees are determined to succeed when they come to the U.S. The initial support they receive from the federal government is crucial to ensure that they can live safe, productive lives and contribute to their new communities.