Though glaringly omitted from President Bush’s State of the Union address, politicians have recently been paying new attention to America’s Iraqi allies. Notably, the issue was addressed at the California Democratic debate between Senators Clinton and Obama. The relevant quotes:

Clinton: …And I also believe we’ve got to figure out what to do with the Iraqis who sided with us. You know, a lot of the drivers and translators saved so many of our young men and women’s lives, and I don’t think we can walk out on them without having some plan as to how to take care of those who are targeted.

Obama: Both of us have said that we’ve got to care for Iraqi civilians, including the 4 million who have been displaced already. We already have a humanitarian crisis and we have not taken those responsibilities seriously…

Click here for complete text of the Iraq portion of the debate and here for the debate transcript in its entirety.

Meanwhile in the US House of Representatives, The Washington Post reports:

[Reps. Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.) and John D. Dingell (D-Mich.)] asked President Bush to add $1.5 billion to his spending next year on the Iraq war to help pay for several Iraq refugee programs, including the one that would bring as many as 5,000 former interpreters or translators for U.S. forces to this country over five years.

“Our government has a moral responsibility to provide leadership… Iraqis are now the third-largest displaced population in the world and the fastest-growing refugee population globally,” they said and thus have “grave potential to lead to a regional crisis.”

Read the full text of the letter here.

Rep. David Price is also pledging leadership on the issue:

“There’s an obligation we have to receive a certain number of these people, and that has lagged very, very badly,” said Price… Price could find himself in a position to address the situation. He is chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Homeland Security, which does security background checks on asylum applicants approved by the United Nations. “The main issue is getting with the program, getting it done,” Price said. “I think the major thing is inertia on the part of the administration. We are going to press this.”

Un-elected representative Angelina Joelie has also weighed in.

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