Something new about Iraqi refugees

The Washington Post has its own version of the story Ann posted yesterday on Iraqi refugees. It contains this paragraph:

Most of the estimated 2.2 million Iraqi refugees — who have fled primarily to Syria and Jordan — want to return home and are becoming a “looming problem” financially for the region, Foley said. Meanwhile, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has identified only about 17,000 as eligible for admission to the United States based on dangers they would face upon returning to Iraq.

This is the first time I’ve read that the refugees want to go home, although it’s been hinted at.  Now here’s the preceding paragraph:

Ambassador James B. Foley, the State Department‘s senior coordinator of Iraqi refugee issues, told reporters yesterday that he still hopes the goal for the 2008 fiscal year will be met, but he acknowledged it is “not guaranteed.” Since the program was launched in mid-2007, more than 3,000 Iraqi refugees have been admitted to the United States, with 375 arriving last month.

I reversed the order of the paragraphs because it points out the weirdness of our Iraqi refugee policy. Most of the refugees want to return home. But somehow we need to keep pushing to get more refugees into the U.S. Does that make sense?

Moreover, my most important questions have never been answered.  We know now that Iraq is far safer than it was when the refugees left; that’s why they want to go home. Doesn’t that mean that the people who were under threat, or most of them, are no longer under threat? If they are still all under threat, who from? They would have been threatened by the people that we have now defeated, or are in the process of defeating.

What I am gathering from the silence on this question is that once someone is certified as a refugee, he wants to get into the United States. Unquestionably our country is a more pleasant place to live than Iraq, no matter how safe it becomes. So it’s no wonder these people want to come here. But are they still actual refugees, as opposed to people certified as refugees by the UN? I wonder, now that we are admitting that the refugees want to go home, if the State Department will answer these questions. Probably not.

Administration still slow bringing in Iraqi refugees (sound of snoring)

I came home last night to 7 Yahoo Alerts about the latest admission figures for Iraqi refugees.  I had to laugh, the stories were reported 2 hours and 10 minutes ago, 40 minutes ago, 1 hour and 5 minutes ago and so on.  This is how you do it—you absolutely bombard the public with the same story month after month after month and eventually there is movement.  It helps too to have a friendly Associated Press reporter!

I went back to this post I did at the end of October to see who the AP reporter was and unfortunately the link has expired, but I am sure it’s the same reporter, Matthew Lee, who had this to say last night:

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration conceded Monday it may not meet its goal to admit 12,000 Iraqi refugees by the end of September, although officials stressed that remained their target.

[ ]

While January admissions improved slightly over December, to 375 from 245, the United States must still accept 10,568 Iraqi refugees in the next eight months if it is to reach 12,000 — the number the administration has pledged to resettle in the current budget year, which began in October 2007 and runs until Sept. 30.

I’ll bet Mr. Lee is friendly with the refugee industry folks in Washington, perhaps lobbyists at Refugees International and he is poised and ready each month to take a whack at the Bush Administration.  However, when the October figures came out, Mr. Lee was on the story before the stroke of midnight.  This month he is 4 days late!

The administration has come under heavy criticism from advocacy groups and lawmakers for its poor performance on admitting Iraqi refugees who have fled violence since the 2003 U.S. invasion. Many critics say, and Bush aides have acknowledged, that the administration has a moral obligation to Iraqi refugees.

In fairness to Mr. Lee there is always an oblique mention that the security issues are not resolved and that problems exist trying to interview Iraqis in Syria, but it is always later in the story and the security problems are never explored in depth.

Despite improved cooperation between the departments of State and Homeland Security in refugee processing, admissions have lagged in part because of restrictions placed on interviewers, particularly in Syria……

As we reported just last week in addition to the magic 12,000 figure for Iraqis and in addition to the 70,000 refugee figure for the entire FY 2008, Congress sneaked through an additional 5000 Iraqis in the Defense Authorization bill signed by the President.

Polygamy: the road to multiple welfare benefits

Britain’s Sunday Telegraph reported that “husbands with multiple wives have been given the go-ahead to claim extra welfare benefits following a year-long Government review.”  Not every husband, mind you. Ordinary Brits can get up to seven years in prison for bigamy. But if you’re a Muslim it’s not only just fine, it’s profitable too, as long as you marry the extra wives in another country. Sometimes there’s a problem, though, in getting those wives into Britain. But fortunately for the men, there are ways to do it.

While a married man cannot obtain a spouse visa to bring a second wife into Britain, some multiple partners may be able to enter the country via other legal routes such as tourist visas, student visas or work permits.


In addition, officials have identified a potential loophole by which a man can divorce his wife under British law while continuing to live with her as his spouse under Islamic law, and obtain a spouse visa for a foreign woman who he can legally marry.


“Entry clearance may not be withheld from a second wife where the husband has divorced his previous wife and the divorce is thought to be one of convenience,” an immigration rulebook advises. “This is so, even if the husband is still living with the previous wife and to issue the entry clearance would lead to the formation of a polygamous household.”

Isn’t multiculturalism grand?

We haven’t become as insane as Britain in accomodating it, but polygamy is a fact in the United States. We’ve heard from people in the refugee resettlement field that there are refugees in polygamous marriages. The men don’t declare their wives, of course; the extra wives come into the U.S. as single women. And I’ve read newspaper accounts of other Muslim immigrants being discovered in polygamous marriages. I haven’t read of any consequences for them, though.

Why aren’t people who are discovered in these marriages punished? What they are doing is illegal in this country. Polygamy isn’t a quaint cultural quirk; it’s a demeaning institution that no woman should have to put up with. Nonie Darwish writes at length about how destructive it is to society, and to relationships between husbands and wives as well as between women, in her wonderfully moving book, Now They Call Me Infidel.  Immigrants must be taught to become Americans and drop customs that we consider unacceptable. If they don’t want to, they should live in a place where their customs are acceptable.  And we must make certain that those customs never do become acceptable here.