Greetings friends and supporters of the List Project!
As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, the List Project continues its goal of providing hope and help for those Iraqis who have worked for the United States, throughout this final period of withdrawal.
In this month’s e-brief we will fill you in on current news relating to TLP and the Iraqi refugee crisis, as well as showcase some of the latest stories that we have featured on our blog.
As always, we love feedback, so don’t forget to e-mail us with your questions and keep us up to date on the ways that you are working with Iraqi refugees in your community.
Iraq in the News
Security processing for Iraqis is still going at an excruciatingly slow rate, and as Trudy Rubin of the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported, only ten visas were given in August to Iraqis applying to the Special Immigrant Visa program. As our presence in Iraq winds down, the queue will only get longer.
Interpreters for the U.S. are finding themselves out of work and in a dangerous situation, forced to leave the bases that we are now closing. These Iraqis will be forced to live as exiles in their own country, while they wait for a visa that may never come, or may simply come too late.
This need not be the case. An executive order from the president could swiftly bring help to these Iraqis at a time when they need it most. Both Presidents Ford and Clinton have done this in the past, rescuing refugees from the war in Vietnam and ethnic Kurds in Iraq, respectively. They used the small Pacific island of Guam, which is an American territory housing U.S. Naval and Air Force bases, to keep the refugees safe while their applications for visas could be processed. The majority of these refugees were then settled in the continental U.S.
On Monday, a Guamanian politician released a statement noting these historic precedents and showing support for the temporary relocation of U.S. affiliated Iraqis to the small Pacific island. She pressed the governor of Guam to speak with president Obama about the issue, stating that, “As always, Guam is ready to help.”
Recently TLP featured a story written by a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Peter Farley, who wrote eloquently about his former interpreter Wisam and the long and tedious process of getting him to the United States. It’s a great and heartwarming story. Be sure to read it in full (Parts 1 & 2!). Here’s an excerpt:
“I believe I learned many invaluable life lessons from Wisam, which helped me to develop into a more open-minded and better person. He risked his life on a daily basis, by working with us, for the good of his family and the good of his country. It is my belief that he helped keep my squad and I safe over there and as excited as I was to return stateside safely upon completion of a long deployment, my heart was broken to think that we were leaving Wisam and others in situations where the possibility of danger and death was imminent on a daily basis, even more so because of their work with the United States. It was difficult to say goodbye to Wisam, knowing that chances were that I would probably never see him again. We did promise each other that we would both do everything in our power to remain lifelong friends.”
TLP in the Economist
An article published in last week’s Economist lays out the almost insurmountable hurdles that Iraqis who have worked with the United States are forced to jump through in order to reach the United States, reporting that “men must now pass five separate checks, women four, and children three.”
TLP’s founder and director Kirk Johnson told the Economist “the reality is that there are no political points to be gained from Iraq, and no one got elected to bring refugees in during a recession.”
Check out the Blog!
Make sure to check in regularly to TLP’s blog. We provide weekly updates about the situation which U.S. affiliated Iraqis find themselves in today, as well as feature stories written about the issue from Iraqis and the U.S. soldiers who they served.