Washington – Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), sent the following letter to Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The letter expresses concern over the lack of resources that have been committed to the new processing center in Baghdad for Iraqi refugees and requests a response on the implementation of the DHS policy directive required to implement the provisions of the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007 (Sections 1241-1249 of Public Law 110-181).Please find below a copy of the letter:
June 12, 2008
The Honorable Michael Chertoff
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Secretary Chertoff:
I write regarding the resettlement to the United States of our Iraqi allies – those Iraqis who have worked for our government and American organizations in Iraq, and whose lives have been placed in grave danger because of that service. As you know, the thousands of Iraqis who have worked, and are still working for, our government, corporations, media and U.S.-based NGOs and other organizations in Iraq, are branded as “collaborators” by their countrymen and are targeted for assassination. Many have been brutally murdered for their service to the United States. A fact that is utterly deplorable. The United States has a moral obligation to help those Iraqis who have helped us.
While I am pleased that the United States has opened a processing center in Baghdad to assist Iraqis at risk in applying for resettlement to the United States – something I had recommended a year ago — I am advised that the office lacks the necessary personnel and resources to quickly and efficiently process the hundreds, if not thousands, of Iraqis who are in imminent danger. Additionally, I have been advised that Iraqis seeking assistance still face many hurdles in getting access to this processing office.
I also understand that the Department of Homeland Security has yet to produce its policy directive to implement the provisions of Sections 1241 – 1249 of Public Law 110-181, the “Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007,” for which it is responsible. Please advise me on when this directive will be issued and the number of personnel and other resources your agency will provide for resettlement of Iraqis at risk in the Baghdad center as well as other locations. Every single day more Iraqi allies face increased danger for their service to the United States, therefore a prompt response is appreciated.
Alcee L. Hastings, M.C.