Although the United States has made significant strides, there are still numerous issues with the current refugee and resettlement system for our Iraqi allies. The Special Immigrant Visa program ends on October 1, 2012, unless Congress takes further action, and applicants often can fall through the resettlement applications’ cracks with few methods of tangible recourse. The struggles of Iraqi brothers Mohammed and Ahmed with the USRAP applicant process illustrate this predicament better than any simple facts and statistics ever could.
Mohammed worked for the US Army for six years, from 2003 to 2009. Concerned about the dangers they faced in Iraq because of Mohammed’s work, Mohammed and his brother Ahmed both applied for the United States Refugee Assistance Program (USRAP) for both their families and themselves. The two brothers received their case numbers and began the long wait for an initial interview with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Ten months later, Mohammed and Ahmed still had not received even an initial interview date.
Everything changed, however, in April 2012. Mohammed received a threatening letter followed by a harrowing phone call. Scared, he called IOM to report the incidents and request that his application be expedited due to the worsening circumstances and his deteriorating security. IOM could not speed up his application and recommended that he move to Jordan for his wait for processing. Unable to move to Jordan, Mohammed instead moved to Turkey, but he soon found the country too expensive for him and his family to indefinitely remain in. Reluctantly, Mohammed returned to Iraq because of his financial constraints.
Mohammed’s brother will never forget the tragic events that followed only ten days after the family’s return. On June 9, 2012, Mohammed’s phone rang. Mohammed took the short call and remarked to his wife that he had to step out of the house but would return shortly. He, however, never returned home.
Still hoping that things were just taking longer than expected, or that perhaps Mohammed had stopped to catch up with a friend, Mohammed’s wife saw on the local news that a decapitated male body had been found earlier that day. Trying to ignore the sinking feeling in her stomach, she called the police to report her missing husband. She could not avoid the reality of Mohammed’s death, however, because his personal identification was recovered in the body’s pocket.
As the family gathered to mourn at Mohammed’s funeral, Ahmed received his own threatening phone call; “you will be next!” said the mysterious caller. Terrified, Ahmed contacted IOM to report not only the threats but also Mohammed’s tragic death. To date, Ahmed has not received a response to his requests for expedited processing. He however, plans on leaving Iraq as soon as possible and is making plans to move to Jordan for the remainder of the USRAP application process.
We owe more as a nation to those Iraqis who bravely helped us during our time in Iraq and to their families than to sit by while the resttlement processes take an increasingly long amount of time and the paths of opportunity for reaching the United States close. We must continue to keep pressure on the United States government until it completely fulfills its duties to those brave Iraqi men and women who served our country during its nearly-decade long mission in Iraq.
-The List Project Team
 Although these are true events, the names have been changed.