The Hill reported on July 13, 2012 that the United States processed 1 million Chinese visas in the first nine months of Fiscal Year 2012, representing a 43% increase from the same time in 2011 when 675,000 applications had been processed. In contrast, according to government calculations, the United States admitted only 618 Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa applicants in 2011, out of the 5,000 slots allotted for that fiscal year. Only 1,046 Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa applicants had been admitted through May of 2012, with 5,000 slots again allocated for the year.
The contrast between these numbers is astounding. The United States is clearly able to process not only large numbers of visa applications but it is also able to do so quickly. The shame is that the same cannot be said for the processing of applications from the US-affiliated Iraqis. Out of 25,000 Special Immigrant Visas authorized for Us-affiliated Iraqis, only 5,220 have made it through the application process and arrived in the United States – less than 20% of the total.
While families patiently wait for their visas, they live in constant fear or as strangers in neighboring countries working temporary jobs. As Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor for Vice-President Joe Biden has said, “We owe these people. We have a debt to these people. They put their lives on the line for the United States.” The Departments of State and Homeland Security should look to the handling of Chinese visa applications as an example. We can, and we must, do better.
-The List Project