Dewey speaks of a “moral obligation on the part of the United States” to allow resettlement by Iraqis here. There is no such moral obligation. No one has a right to come here or to be here. We have no obligation to admit a large population of Iraqi Muslims that will undoubtedly include many who hold to the ideology of jihad and Islamic supremacism — there are at present no mechanisms in place to screen out such people, but there should be. Such mechanisms, of course, would by their very nature be imperfect: a revised immigration application questionnaire, for example (upon which I have been working), would only be a means to allow for prosecution and deportment of those who answer falsely, to put the world on notice that even peaceful activities for the advancement of Sharia are not tolerated in the U.S., and to lead to other steps that will be necessary for national security and for the protection of societal and Constitutional principles.
Meanwhile, “officials at the State Department and the United Nations said they understand the danger facing Iraqi Christians but said they don’t want to give the impression that they would favor Christians over Muslims in a resettlement program.” The UN is one thing, but there is absolutely no reason why the State Department should not favor Christians over Muslims in a resettlement program. This is an overwhelmingly Christian country, and the Constitution and Bill of Rights are rooted in Judeo-Christian assumptions. This is part of our national character, and no one should be apologetic about it.
For these and other reasons, the analogy with Vietnam fails utterly. The Vietnamese were Christians, or Buddhists, and neither group brought with it a ready-made societal model and an imperative to replace the culture and mores and laws of the society to which they were coming.
But no one in Washington has the courage to speak about that.
“Iraqi exodus could test Bush policy: Total expected to exceed quota for refugees,” by Michael Kranish in the Boston Globe:
WASHINGTON — Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homeland are likely to seek refugee status in the United States, humanitarian groups said, putting intense pressure on the Bush administration to reexamine a policy that authorizes only 500 Iraqis to be resettled here next year.
The official US policy has been that the refugee situation is temporary and that most of the estimated 1.5 million who have fled to Jordan, Syria, and elsewhere will eventually return to Iraq. But US and international officials now acknowledge that the instability in Iraq has made it too dangerous for many refugees, especially Iraqi Christians, to return any time soon.
Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of state for refugees and migration, said that while the Bush administration does not think resettlement is needed for most refugees, its policy could rapidly change.
“It is quite possible that we will in time decide that because of vulnerabilities of certain populations that resettlement is the right option,” Sauerbrey said. While acknowledging that the administration originally set a quota of no more than 500 Iraqi refugees, she said the president has the legal authority to admit 20,000 additional refugees.
Eventually, specialists said, the number of Iraqi refugees settling in the United States could be vastly higher.
But few Iraqi refugees have yet to be allowed to resettle here, due partly to finger-pointing between the State Department and the United Nations over who is responsible for determining which Iraqis need to be resettled. Sauerbrey said she has been pleading with the United Nations to do its job of surveying refugees.
“We have not been getting referrals from [the United Nations],” she said, pointing to the office of the UN high commissioner for refugees. “They have got to do a better job.”
Judy Cheng-Hopkins, the United Nations assistant high commissioner for refugees, responded to such criticism by saying that the UN needs more funding from the international community to identify possible refugees. But she predicted that the numbers would be large because most refugees now see little chance of returning to Iraq.
She said many want to settle in the West, including in the United States, because their life in Iraq “is pretty much gone.”
“A great majority would be dreaming of resettlement elsewhere, in the West,” said Cheng-Hopkins, who recently returned from a trip to Jordan and Syria to assess the extent of the refugee problem.
In particular, more than 120,000 Christians who have fled Iraq are unlikely to go home and about 100,000 of them want to come to the United States, where many have relatives, according to a group representing the Christians. A great many of the estimated 1.4 million Iraqi Muslims also are expected to try to resettle, many in the West, according to UN officials.
An effort by hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to resettle in the United States would put the Bush administration in an extraordinarily awkward position. Having waged war to liberate Iraqis, the United States would in effect be admitting failure if it allowed a substantial number of Iraqis to be classified as refugees who could seek asylum here.
Arthur E. “Gene” Dewey, who was President Bush’s assistant secretary of state for refugee affairs until last year, said that “for political reasons the administration will discourage” the resettlement of Iraqi refugees in the United States “because of the psychological message it would send, that it is a losing cause.”
But Dewey said a tipping point has been reached that is bound to change US policy because so many refugees are convinced that they will not be able to return to Iraq. That tipping point was further weighted by Wednesday’s report by the Iraq Study Group that called for the eventual withdrawal of most US forces.
“I think there will increasingly be a moral obligation on the part of the United States” to allow resettlement by Iraqis here, Dewey said. “That is the price for intervention. Similar to Vietnam, that obligation is just going to have to be fulfilled.”
The US government has allowed about 900,000 Vietnamese to resettle here since the end of the Vietnam War.
But in recent years, the process of resettling refugees in the United States has moved very slowly. Last year, for example, the Bush administration requested funding for 70,000 refugees from around the world to be resettled here.
Of those, the administration wound up admitting only 42,000, due to lack of funding and inability to obtain security clearances. There were slots last year for only 200 Iraqis, nearly all of whom had applied for admission before the Iraq war.
Asked whether the United States has resettled any Iraqi who has applied for admission since the war began, Sauerbrey said, “If there have been any, it has been a handful.”
She said more Iraqis probably would be admitted, but she cautioned: “Our refugee resettlement program will only be able to take a small number. Whether it is 500 or 20,000, it is a very small portion of the overall problem.”
An association representing Iraqi Christians, the Michigan-based Chaldean Federation of America, estimates that about 100,000 of the 120,000 Christians who have fled Iraq have relatives in America and want to immigrate here. Amid growing sectarian violence in largely Muslim Iraq, Christians have faced killings, torture, destruction of churches, assassination of priests, and confiscation of property.
The group’s executive director, Joseph Kassab, noted that after the 1991 Gulf War, the United States allowed a large group of Iraqi Shi’ites — 12,000 by some estimates — to immigrate here because they faced persecution from Saddam Hussein.
“Why can’t they do the same thing for Iraqi Christians?” Kassab asked. “We are the byproduct of the action that was taken in Iraq, the bad part of it.”
A supporter of the Iraqi Christian effort is the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which has long helped Jews resettle in America and views the plight of Iraqi Christians as similar to that faced by Jews during the Holocaust.
“There are few religious minorities in the world today as persecuted as the Iraqi Christian population, so we naturally identify with them based on our own history,” said Mark Hetfield, a senior vice president of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
Officials at the State Department and the United Nations said they understand the danger facing Iraqi Christians but said they don’t want to give the impression that they would favor Christians over Muslims in a resettlement program. Any decisions regarding admission will be based on a family’s vulnerability, not religion, officials said.
“The one thing we have to be very clear about is, if we were to admit only Christians, or at least a big majority of Christians and not other groups, this would just fuel the whole debate” about the West favoring Christians, said Cheng-Hopkins.
Kassab met on Wednesday with White House officials and said he received assurances that the plight of Iraqi Christian refugees will be reviewed.