For the past several months, The List Project has been working with the Center for American Progress (CAP) in the development of an action plan for the new administration. While we have succeeded in resettling nearly 300 Iraqi allies from the List to safety in the U.S., there are nearly 2,000 more who have struggled amidst threats of assassination to navigate a complicated bureaucracy that in many cases takes years to process an application. This is untenable and President-elect Obama seems to recognize this, saying:
We must also keep faith with Iraqis who kept faith with us… One tragic outcome of this war is that the Iraqis who stood with America – the interpreters, embassy workers, and subcontractors – are being targeted for assassination…And yet our doors are shut. In April, we admitted exactly on Iraqi refugee – just one! That is not how we treat our friends. That is not how we take responsibility for our own actions. That is not who we are as Americans… Keeping this moral obligation is a key part of how we turn the page in Iraq. Because what’s at stake is bigger than this war – it’s our global leadership. Now is a time to be bold. We must not stay the course of take the conventional path because the other course is unknown. To quote Dr. Brzezinski – we must not allow ourselves to become “prisoners of uncertainty.” (President-elect Obama, September 2008)
The CAP-TLP plan makes the urgent recommendation the the President-elect to order an airlift of eligible U.S. affiliated Iraqis to a third location such as our military base in Guam, for expedited processing. We are not recommending a hap-hazard process: the Departments of State and Homeland Security will still be performing the same interviews and security checks, but in an environment that eliminates most of the bureaucratic obstacles (such as operating in a war zone) that have resulted in such a lengthy and insufficient program. Congress has already signaled its bipartisan intent through the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act to help a minimum of 25,000 Iraqi allies through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. While that legislation passed, only 600 Iraqis were processed in the first year in that program. This is unacceptable and our Iraqi allies will not survive such a glacial pace. As the CAP-TLP plan recalls, we have used Guam as recently as 1996 to resettle nearly 7,000 U.S.-affiliated Iraqis in a matter of weeks to America. Doing so keeps the refugees safe while making sure that the America public is also protected at the same time.
This January, The List Project will be working hard to make sure that the CAP-TLP plan reaches the right people in the incoming administration. On January 12, timed with the one night run of George Packer’s award winning play ‘Betrayed’ at the Kennedy Center in D.C. (after which The List Project’s Executive Director will be joining a Q and A–click here to buy tickets) CAP will formally launch the plan. We will also be gather signatures of VIPs on a letter to the President-elect that recommends the CAP-TLP plan.
So what can you do?
You can tell the President-elect and his transition team to pay attention to the CAP-TLP plan and help save our Iraqi allies. We are asking all Netrooters and TLP supporters to take a couple minutes in the next week to register their support at the official transition website, change.gov. There are only three steps:
1. Click here for our sample letter
2. Read, Sign, and Paste the letter into this form
3. Let us know that you took part in this important step! Email Ann at: ann[at]thelistproject.org
We will keep you all informed on our progress throughout the next several weeks as we work together to bring this issue to the full attention of the new administration!