Can the US afford to take in these Refugees make sense in our current US economy?
Tens of thousands of Iraqis could come to U.S. in '09
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has surpassed its goal of admitting 12,000 Iraqi refugees this year and expects more, perhaps tens of thousands, next year, the State Department said on Friday.
The United States expects to admit a minimum of 17,000 Iraqi refugees in fiscal 2009, which begins October 1, the department's senior coordinator for refugees said. Thousands more Iraqis and their family members could arrive via a special visa program for people who worked for the United States or its contractors.
"I think you'll see the U.S. government admitting over the course of fiscal 2009 tens of thousands of Iraqis into the United States," coordinator James Foley told reporters.
Up to 3,000 could come from Baghdad, where the United States launched interviews this year, he said.
So far this year 12,118 Iraqi refugees have arrived and another 1,000 are booked to travel to the United States by the end of this month, when the U.S. fiscal year ends, he said.
This marks a huge leap from just 1,600 Iraqis who were admitted in the previous year, a number that drew widespread criticism from refugee groups who said Washington should do more to help solve a crisis affecting millions of Iraqis since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.
But it is still lower than the number some other countries have taken. Sweden, a country of 9 million people, has admitted over 40,000 Iraqis since 2003.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates 2 million Iraqis are living abroad, mostly in neighboring Jordan and Syria. More than 2.5 million are internally displaced.
Foley called on the government of oil-rich Iraq to do more to help Iraqi refugees abroad as well as plan for returning Iraqis by addressing their needs for security, social services and property compensation.
So far, he said, Iraq has only spent about $25 million to help its refugees abroad, and provided about $200 million for an initiative to help returning refugees. The latter amount was "rather small" considering the number of Iraqi refugees and the improving security situation inside Iraq, Foley said.
"One cannot rule out in these situations the possibility that the refugees in large numbers themselves will decide it's time to go back, but will the Iraqi government be ready for that? That's what we have to prepare for I think," Foley said.
The United States spent over $318 million in humanitarian aid for Iraqi refugees this year, Foley said. Washington sought support from other donors, "particularly in the region, not to mention, the government of Iraq itself."
Foley said he was grateful that Syria, a country with which the United States has strained relations, had agreed to a new facility for refugee processing, which would enable Washington to handle larger numbers of refugees.
"Despite the vagaries in our bilateral relationship which all are familiar with, I think we have managed to agree that for humanitarian purposes we will together make this happen for the sake of the Iraqi refugees," he said.
(Editing by Sandra Maler)
- 1 decade agoFavorite Answer
A lot of them are Sunnis being targeted by the Shiite majority, and furthermore, they have worked for the US as interpreters and such.
I think we are obligated to help them out if their lives are in danger or if they might be subject to persecution in Iraq. A lot of these people are fleeing their homeland not by choice but by necessity. Considering the number of millions of illegals that get into this country, I think 17,000 legal immigrants on refugee status should not be such a big thing. If anything it's a humanitarian effort on our part to admit these Iraqis - not unlike what we do for Cuban immigrants.
- George LLv 71 decade ago
Actually most of the folks you are referring to will be Iraqi Christians, Chaldeans or Assyrians, who are frequently targeted by both Sunni and Shia groups. One of their primary religious leaders was kidnapped and killed some months ago, and various churches have been attacked as well. The fundamentalist groups frequently demand that they pay dimmi taxes, which under Koranic law, was a particular tax paid by non-Muslim "people of the Book" or Christians and Jews. At least they had a choice, unlike pagans for example. For them it was convert or die. It was used to raise money and encourage people to become Muslim, which many did over time. You don't see many Arab Jews or Christians in Saudi Arabia these days, but in Mohammed's time they were common.
As for taking jobs, well, that will depend on their English skills and educational level. However, if you really want to worry about that, the US brings in 70,000 or so refugees from all over the world every year. Not to mention 65,000 people who come over specifically to work in skilled employment positions, and about a million or so who come in as legal immigrants every year. So, in reality, the Iraqi refugees by themselves will literally be a drop in the bucket. Feel better now?
- Anonymous1 decade ago
It's part of Bushes plan! If he imports all the Iraqis into the US he thinks he can find those pesky weapons of mass destruction that keep evading capture! What do you expect from a moron?
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Since the US is directly responsible for turning so many Iraqis into refugees, why shouldn't they be allowed in?
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- Anonymous1 decade ago
Well at leadt their coming leagly uinlike the mexicans
- AnaisLv 51 decade ago
Go ask the genius, Mr. Bush.
- JW.CLv 61 decade ago
Of course we can take them in. So long as they come here legally its all good.
In fact we welcome anyone that wants to come here legally.