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September 27, 2007


Imagine the apoplexy if a Democratic President admits Iraqis into the United States. Rush, O'Reilly, Hannity & Co. would be blubbering about how we were *admitting terrorists* into the country. And that would be the way the story is framed. Which is why no Democrat would ever do it.

Voting Republican in 2008 is the only chance, however slim, of having a humane immigration policy.

"Voting Republican in 2008 is the only chance, however slim, of having a humane immigration policy."

Especially if you're Hispanic.

Or Haitian.

You likely had a more limited case in mind, I'm willing to bet.

I hope that was a joke, Ara. *laughs politely*

I'm furious that my country is sending refugees back to Iraq.

(The numbers given here aren't representative of the number of Iraqis in the UK without the legal right to remain. There are a more coming in and staying illegally than there are getting legal refugee status; but the low numbers being allowed to stay are shameful, and it's appalling that we're sending people back.)

If that's April of *this* year, I'd check those numbers again. I know of three Iraqis that came to this country as refugees that month, because they were the mother, father and brother of the guy I work with.

They arrived in April, but maybe they weren't counted that month?

No praise for Syria?

It has taken in over 1,000,000 Iraqi refugees.

If Assad was smart, he'd ask for the Golan Heights back so he has room to house them...

I'm not sure the words exist to express my profound disappointment and disgust at the leaders and people of the U.S. on this. I could forgive the invasion, in time, if only on the grounds that a lot of people who supported it did at least mean well. But this failure is a stain on our collective soul as a nation.

Sorry, I decline the honor of bearing the black stain of the GOP and the military. Besides, they seem to be bearing up pretty well under the total dishonor of this war.

And here I thought this post was going to be about the improved odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field. ;-)

President Bush’s fear-infused nation.

Indeed. The "world's only superpower" is apparently mostly populated by a bunch of sniveling cowards.

Given Ara's previous posts, I doubt if he/she is actually advocating that anyone vote for a Republican.

However, Ara has a point. I want a Democratic administration to empty Guantanamo and open the doors for Iraqi immigrants, but...which Democratic candidate is mostly likely to act without fear of what-the-wingnut Noise machine-will -say?

Factor in the per capita costs of Sweden's social welfare system, and I'd say they're spending a crapload more per refugee than we are as well. To say we should be ashamed doesn't even begin to describe the situation.

Guess who gets to return to the States to melt back into the population until the reconstructionist Republican Party requires their services for bigger domestic game?:

Highly paid Blackwater mercenaries, fresh from spraying heavy weapons fire into Iraqi crowds (thus reducing the number of potential refugees). Their personal data and identities are as off limits to any legitimate oversight as the color of their eyes behind those Miami Vice reflective shades.

They can go anywhere, no questions asked. Meanwhile, just as an example of how things are going, Federal agencies can now demand ALL personal information and history from their employees as a condition for entering the buildings where they work.

More. As Kevin Drum and others are now realizing, Bushco are now laying the groundwork to make it very difficult for any future Administration to reverse their program for America, particularly in the area of "homeland" security and war.

If constructive changes are to be made or oversight exercised by Congress in FISA and these other areas, there will be only one way to gain the support of any Republicans: a future Democratic Administration must use these laws, as unconstitutionally as possible, against, say, a half-dozen Republican notables.

Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, the CEO of Blackwater, Sean Hannity, one editor of Redstate, and Grover Norquist would top my list of targets for surveillance, harassment, travel restriction, and financial embargo.

When they shop with their kids at the mall, stop them at least three times for a rough wanding; if they attempt to enter a Federal building, let slavering dogs sniff their crotches for signs of life; when they sleep, buzz their lairs nightly with black helicopters outfitted with infrared detection equipment.

These six alone will whine and whimper their outrage so loudly that Frank Church will arise from his grave to become their new hero and savior. They'll line up and beg to carry Dennis Kucinich's bleeding heart dop kit.

Alternatively, we could exchange the top 50,000 Republican Party operatives for 500,000 Iraqi refugees. If the 50,000 don't like living in Basra, they can flee to Sweden and sample state-run healthcare and whine about that, too.

I liked Roger Cohen's use of the word "velleities" in his piece: it's not often that a word in a newspaper (even the NY Times) sends me off to the dictionary. However, the definitions were none too heartening:

1. The lowest degree of desire or volition, with no effort to act.

2. A slight wish not followed by any effort to obtain.

And when applied (accurately, IMHO) to a situation like the US' admission (or not) of Iraqi refugees - disgusting, depressing, and shameful.

What G'Kar said @ 05:02.

The lawlessness of the Administration has been an exercise in arrogating power to the Executive Branch.

If the Administration is not impeached, and these Constitutional wrongs undone, there is little reason to think that a successor Executive Branch will be committed to such a course.

Think about that.

Hil: when you get the chance, I linked to an interview with Tobias Billström here that you might be interested in (post also links to the recent Amnesty International report on the refugee crisis). In addition: links to a Spiegel International series on Iraqi refugees in Sweden available here; Al-Jazeera English report here.

Hope things become less hectic for you soon. ;-)

There's a truly wicked irony in this situation. On the one hand, Republicans argue that those who wish to withdraw from Iraq are heartless for abandoning the Iraqi people to a civil war. But the same Republicans don't want to accept Iraqi refugees because those refugees would undoubtedly include a fair number of potential terrorists. Thus, by invading Iraq, the Bush Administration has created a moral imperative that opens the door for terrorists to enter the country. Homeland security will be reduced if we do what we ought to do.


"you can feel his indignation about to erupt like milk boiling over"

Is this a veiled insult or a wonderful simile?

Our policy on Iranian immigrants has been crazy for quite a while. The best grad student in my field a few years ago got harassed out of the country. For that matter the NYT had a story the other day (ok, here)about an English Elgar scholar who can't work here because - well, who knows.

Factor in the per capita costs of Sweden's social welfare system, and I'd say they're spending a crapload more per refugee than we are as well.

Depends how you do the calculations, Incertus (Brian). Taking some commonly accepted figures, $450Bn in US war spending / 3M Iraqi refugees = $150,000 per refugee. Not too shabby after all! (/snark)

Iraq War Diary:

The episode covered a New Hampshire reserve unit deployed in Iraq. A good part of the hour was covering an Iraqi interpreter named Mohammed, who made repeated negative references about the "white boys from New Hampshire" who made up the majority of his unit.

The last scene showed Mohammed getting sworn in as a US Citizen. The camera was on him as he vowed to protect the US Constitution and he flinched. After the ceremony, he explained how he did not translate several orders that he didn’t agree with. The show closed with Mohammed saying that he loved being a soldier, he just wished that he could pick his war. The last image was Mohammed paddling off on some New Hampshire lake. The New York Times controls the series.

Mohammed says these things in front of a TV camera. There are valid reasons to be concerned about admitting Muslim immigrants into Western society. Sweden is an excellent example. Google “Malmo violence”.

I'm not sure that I am joking. I'm really fed up with our political process.

What I'm talking about is this kind of trend: in California, Gray Davis didn't have any pardons during his term as governor. Schwarzenegger stepped in and immediately pardoned a bunch of people.

I don't think this is because Gray Davis had a harder heart than Schwarzenegger. I think it is just because a pardon is a far greater political liability for a Democrat than a Republican. Similarly, I think Republicans get away with increasing the size of the federal government. I also think Democrats have a better shot of actually cutting back government programs without the political outcry (even if it's still a small shot).

People's conception of the political parties has hardened, meaning that people simply discount evidence that Democrats could be tough on crime while Republicans might not be.

We've seen over and over again how people simply discount evidence that Republicans abandon our military. Meanwhile, MoveOn.org is draining our morale and putting soldiers in harm's way -- so the popular story goes.

I think it will be much easier for a Republican -- politically speaking -- to withdraw from Iraq. If a Democrat gets in in 2008, the idiot Right will be howling about a withdrawal for the next 30 years. Every bad thing that happens in the Middle East will be pinned on that Democrat and his or her lack of resolve. People will forget what really happened and they will remember this right-wing story that people keep reminding them of. I think somebody like Hillary Clinton is very aware of this, which is why think it's actually less likely that we'll see a withdrawal under a Democratic president than a Republican. Democrats just don't have the political cover.

Ara: I'll allow that Democrats could be blamed for the country's ills as we move down the road towards ruin. This is not a good reason to elect Republicans to hasten our progress along that road.

Ara, I don't think that's so new, though. The saying "Only Nixon could go to China" goes back a while, and I'm sure the idea predates that.

At one point I'd convinced myself that the first female or African-American president would be a Republican, for similar reasons, but I no longer believe the reasoning applies to that case.

I was a little surprised not to see any mention in the post or comments of the Refugee Crisis in Iraq bill in the Senate.

It began life as S.1651 but I believe is being offered as an amendment to the defense spending bill. Kennedy is the sponsor; original cosponsors are a bipartisan group: Biden,Levin,Leahy,Lieberman,Hagel,Smith. As are the eight others who've joined as cosponsors since (Whitehouse, Wyden, Voinovich, Durbin, Menendez, Feinstein, Collins, Snowe).

If they're not already on that list, please urge your Senator to support it when it comes to the floor; Human Rights First says it's expected to be a very close vote. [Their action alert calls it S.Amdt. 2872, but Thomas doesn't have the text of that one yet -- just call it the Kennedy 'Refugee Crisis in Iraq' amendment.]

Human Rights First has been on this issue for a while; I know of the bill primarily because of their alerts. They also have a worthwhile fact-check of the State Department spokesman's response to Ambassador Crocker's leaked letter of outrage at the slow pace of approval for refugees.

I suppose I am most concerned about HC. Clinton the First executed Ricky Ray Rector, a man who very likely at the time did not realize the meaning of what it is to be executed (for example, he thought he could finish his last meal after the execution), knowing full well the political liabilities of doing otherwise.

We have political institutions that favor the sorts of people who will do what is best for them over what is humane. No matter how many friendly Iraqis die because we would not allow political amnesty, this will never be a major news story in this country. It is all risk and no reward for a politician to do the right thing here.

To clarify: the Kennedy bill mandates that the State Dept. set up a process for quick immigration as refugees and 'special immigrants' of Iraqis who have worked with the U.S. and with media organizations, and their families.

Take just a moment to type in [yoursenator].senate.gov, look up the web/email contact form, and ask them to support the bill. And/or call their office.

Nell -- I just called to ask Lautenberg to support the bill (Menendez is a co-sponsor). I identified it as "the Refugee Crisis in Iraq bill" and said it was an amendment to the defense spending bill. Is this sufficient for them to know what I'm talking about? (Lautenberg's office now has a voice-mail system that asks you to leave your comments on the machine, rather than talking to a staffer.)

(One thing I'm really, really happy about my current employment in comparison to my previous: being able to call a congress-crittur's office from my desk without raising eybrows around me.)

Nell (or anyone): a question, if you know. I just read some recent cases today where federal courts upheld decisions denying Iraqis asylum--cases by courts that would normally be your last resort for an appeal. Are people actually being deported to Iraq? I would hope that DHS holds off, & that their lawyers or human rights orgs. would be making a stink in the press if not. But it's totally plausible to me that people are slipping through the cracks. Has anyone heard anything about this?

I don't know why we have Temporary Protected Status for countries based on hurricanes they suffered years & years ago, & not for Iraq. Well--I do know. But it's not justifiable.

@Modesto Kid:

That should be enough.

If calling a Democrat, identifying it as 'Senator Kennedy's 'Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act' may help -- they would be getting in touch with him if they're inspired to co-sponsor.

In calling Republicans, I'd call it "the bipartisan 'Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act'" and give the bill number: S.1651. If talking to a Republican staffer, it'd be worth noting that the bill has 5 Republican cosponsors (and Lieberman ).

and just think, the entire war could've been prevented if Bush had accepted Saddam's offer.

I thought that was going to be a link to this, cleek.


That proposal if accepted might have prevented far more problems than just the war.

But imagine how insufferable Bush would have been in the unlikely event that he won.


More insufferable than the whole "Mission Accomplished" photoshoot? Is that possible?

Katherine, I don't know any particulars. There have been references (e.g. in Leahy's statement at a Senate hearing on Iraqi refugees this past January) to Iraqi asylum-seekers being denied on the basis of "material support for terrorists".

One scenario that occurs to me is the relatives of Iraqis picked up by U.S. troops in raids and held for months, often a year or more. Despite the almost complete absence of process (and the long, long delays even for those who eventually went before a court), the U.S. military and embassy talked about those detainees as if they were all "terrorists" or "anti-Iraq forces". You remember how hard it was to spring people like Cyrus Kar, the filmmaker, and several media workers, after they were put in Iraqi jails or military detention centers.

Iraqi refugees here awaiting determination are not necessarily free persons, either. The HRF website mentions that they're often stuck for months stretching into years in the same detention centers as other "illegals".

And then there's the highly crapshoot-like nature of asylum appeals to begin with. HRF's study showing sharp disparities among immigration judges was the inspiration for this NY Times piece that brings home the complexities of the system.

To my earlier comments on lobbying: It's good for one's soul to have something to do, but don't raise your hopes too high. Legislation does nothing if the executive branch continues to drag its heels. I found this(.pdf) from August 2006 in my searches, but it hasn't brought very many translators here as far as I know:

Special immigrant status is now available to Afghan and Iraqi nationals who have worked directly for the United States Military as translators. Created by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 (Public Law 109-163), this new immigration category allows translators and their families to gain admission to the United States, apply for permanent residency and eventually acquire U.S. Citizenship. To request special immigrant status, translators must file a “Petition for Amerasian, Widow (er), or Special Immigrant” (Form I-360) with the required evidence listed below.





Atheletic director alters grades.




All under the Sun, under God, is smily of smilies, meaningless, all things under the sun are smily of smilies and a chasing of the wind.

More evidence for my point.

The Republicans are fantastic at attacking people in dishonest, coordinated ways. I have heard criticism today from three sources that Democrats not promising to pull out the troops is just evidence of how they say whatever they want, whenever it is convenient for them.

Of course, if they had pledged to withdraw, the criticism would have been that they were irresponsible and unwilling to confront the Jihadist menace.

Honest people do not stand a chance.

"There are valid reasons to be concerned about admitting Muslim immigrants into Western society."

Well, there are reasons, maybe, in a contorted way vaild reasons, but no good reasons.

Unless, of course, you view Western society as somehow elitist and best represented by Germany in the 30's.

"which Democratic candidate is mostly likely to act without fear of what-the-wingnut Noise machine-will -say?"

And here is were OBL has already won. The right is full of bedwetters who actually think that OBL and his ilk can take down our country and culture and are willing to give up anything they have to to prevent that. The left (at least the Democrats in Congress) are afraid of stopping that because it may threaten their tenuous hold on power, therfore admitting they are powerless.

Perhaps, sometime, somewhere, somebody will say "I will do what is right and if I lose power so be it. But this country has put people in jeopardy and this country will take them out of jeopardy. If some turn against us, that is an acceptable risk to take."

I don't count on it happening.

And Thullen, that was one of the most serious comments I have ever seen from you. That in and of itself is very telling.

Alas, we are no longer Mother of Exiles, even when the exiles are of our own creation.

Oh, I know about the crapshoot of asylum, the stupidity of material support laws, & the vagaries of the immigration courts--I clerked for one last year. I just don't know about the mechanics of actual deportation once you've exhausted your appeals: whether DHS ever thinks, "hmm, this guy might really get killed, let's hold off a bit." Thanks, though.

"Oh, I know about the crapshoot of asylum, the stupidity of material support laws, & the vagaries of the immigration courts"

Which comment is this related to?

We could all agree to this, but what's it in regard to?

Gary: yeah, I guess that was unclear. Nell's at 5:36.

the mechanics of actual deportation once you've exhausted your appeals: whether DHS ever thinks, "hmm, this guy might really get killed, let's hold off a bit."

That is chilling to think about. Maybe some of the people you worked with are in a position to answer that question.

Back in the 1980s when they were the INS, that used to happen with Salvadorans and Guatemalans... but then, those weren't "our" guanacos y chapines.

JayC: I liked Roger Cohen's use of the word "velleities" in his piece: it's not often that a word in a newspaper (even the NY Times) sends me off to the dictionary.

But not me, thanks to an early acquaintance with Ogden Nash:

Where There's a Will, There's Velleity

Seated one day at the dictionary I was pretty weary and also pretty ill at ease,
Because a word I had always liked turned out not to be a word at all, and suddenly I found myself among the v's.
And suddenly among the v's I came across a new word which was a word called velleity,
So the new word I found was better than the old word I lost, for which I thank my tutelary deity,
Because velleity is a word which gives me great satisfaction,
Because do you know what it means, it means low degree of volition not prompting to action,
And I always knew I had something holding me back but I didn't know what,
And it's quite a relief to know it isn't a conspiracy, it's only velleity that I've got,
Because to be wonderful at everything has always been my ambition,
Yes, indeed, I am simply teeming with volition,
So why I was never wonderful at anything was something I couldn't see
While all the time, of course, my volition was merely volition of a low degree,
Which is the kind of volition that you are better off without it,
Because it puts an idea in your head but doesn't prompt you to do anything about it.
So you think it would be nice to be a great pianist but why bother with practising for hours at the keyboard,
Or you would like to be the romantic captain of a romantic ship but can't find time to study navigation of charts of the ocean of the seaboard;
You want a lot of money but you are not prepared to work for it,
Or a book to read in bed but you do not care to go into the nocturnal cold and murk for it;
And now if you have any such symptoms you can identify your malady with accurate spontaneity:
It's velleity,
So, don't forget to remember that you're velleitous, and if anybody says you're just lazy,
Why, they're crazy.

Ogden Nash (1902 - 1971) from I'm a Stranger Here Myself (Little, Brown & Company, 1938).

To be fair, john miller, there are things that, if they actually will threaten the Democrats' tenuous hold on power and thus allow the Republicans to retake control, I wouldn't want them to do. Retaining power isn't just about ego. It's about being able to continue to be a force for good in the world, and about keeping those who would make things worse away from the levers of power.

Of course if you have to cease being a force for good in order to retain power, then retaining power isn't worthwhile, but the situation is rarely so clearcut. In the real world, there are compromises that are worth making and compromises that aren't, but the argument is about whether specific steps are worth the specific risks they lead to, not about whether compromise is ever necessary.

I cannot understand the US position on Iraqi immigrants. The US is waging war and having massive operations abroad. Her success depends on her being able to recruit locals to cooperate. Most of those people do not really want to emigrate from their homes. However, working for the US may put them and their families into such risk that they need to get out of the country.

If I were living in Afghanistan or Iraq and would be considering selling a few of my neighbours to the US troops, the one thing I'd like trust would be the reliability of the US intelligence machinery. Would they pay me? Would they keep my identity secret? Would they get me out if my identity were revealed? If I were thinking about overt acts on behalf of the US forces, I'd wonder whether the US would get me out of the country in fall-of-Saigon situation.

If the answer to any of the above questions were no, I'd decide not to help US forces. It would simply not be sensible to risk myself for a bad employer.

The most important asset of any intelligence agency is trust. At the moment, I would not dream about trusting any of the US agencies. Even if they were not acting with malice towards me, their incompetence would put me in danger.

Actually Europe is expected to take approximately 40.000 Iraqi refugees, but most countries only give permits for temporary stays whilst Sweden is easier with resident permits. We are number two on the list with 2800 refugees and we are not a very nice country for asylumseekers to be honest.

However even if the US would accept as many as Europe it would still be a tiny group that is helped. The majority of Iraqi refugees are in the neighbouring country so those countries bear all the costs. They cannot cope with the influx (More than 10% of Jordan's population is Iraqi refugee). Housing, healthcare, schools for the children, vaccines for the children, food...

Fighting to accept more refugees will do less that giving more aid to the reagion I think, and you don't have the distracting discussion about wether it is safe to admit so many moslims (quite a number are christian actually):

(A disproportionate number of the Iraqis I met who had worked with Americans are Christians; perhaps Americans prefer to hire them because it minimizes the cultural gap.)

In the Netherlands you can donate specifically to help Iraqi refugees *in the region*. Aren't there non-proselytizing options like that in the US? Shouldn't the emphasis be more on the aid that can be given to the majority of refugees?

KCinDC, I understand that at times compromise is important and necessary. It is just that there are lines in the sand, and I am not sure the current Democrats understand that. Actually some do, but many may not.

I once heard (whether accurate or not is irrelevant) that Powell kept his mouth shut about his views of Iraq both before and after the invasion because he was promised substantial aid for Africa and AIDS.

Not good enough IMO.

John Miller says:

“Well, there are reasons, maybe, in a contorted way vaild reasons, but no good reasons. Unless, of course, you view Western society as somehow elitist and best represented by Germany in the 30's.”

Hitler lamented the Battle of Tours because Christianity complicated his plan.



@Bill: I'm not going to research the whole list of allegations in that blog. But he talkes about the Netherlands too - and I think I know more about that country than he does ;)

He claims:

The German journalist Udo Ulfkotte told in a recent interview that in Holland, you can now see examples of young, unveiled Moroccan women with a so-called "smiley". It means that the girl gets one side of her face cut up from mouth to ear, serving as a warning to other Muslim girls who should refuse to wear the veil.

That is an Urban Legand. Severel police spokespersons and researchers stated that the rumours exist, but that there never was proof whilst the origin of the legends dates back to the '50s.

he also says:

The conclusion one may draw from this is that the authorities in Sweden and Norway know about, or should know about, a disturbing amount of Muslim immigrant rapes of native Scandinavian women, yet choose not to make this information known to the public.

We actually had research (Dutch report) about rape and gang-banging. In the Netherlands the two problemgroups are Moroccan (mostly muslim, but we have many non-Moroccan muslims) and Antillians (former colony, still part of the kingdom, mostly christian). Immigrant youngsters are responsible for a bigger portion of crimes than Dutch-born youngsters (incl. sexual crimes) but there is not a specific ethnic group that outperforms the others.

Immigrant-born youngsters are more inclined to rape women their own age or older (53% vs 47%), Dutch-born youngsters are a bigger portion of child-rapists (76 vs 24) where child-rape is raping a person younger then they are. But hey, if we want to add a religious component; we do have more Roman Catholics then Protestants these days and we all know which religion has most pederasts...*)

The perpetrators did have things in common. They often came from problem families, often without a father. They were of below average intelligence. Combined with lack of self knowledge and empathy and high agression levels their empathy is minimal which means they hardly feel shame and guilt. The environment often consists of high-crime people, lots of nuisance and not much oversight. Last but not least: the boys often have distorted man/woman images, often based upon rumours and porn. At home sexuality is a tabu; none of them had received sex-ed.

If you are a regular reader of his blog you might point out to him that throwing lots of figures around only proves your point to people who are searching for confirmation of their own believes. Maybe he should read up on stork statistics.

*) Yes I know this is nonsens, I'm giving a reciprocal example.

Kennedy statement on passage of Iraqi Refugee Bill; Refugees Int'l endorses legislation, saying it "welcomes these efforts to give the most vulnerable Iraqis security here in the U.S., but we must still address the millions who will not be resettled."

Well, at least Gordon Brown says he's going to do the right thing. Though as Tom Porteus of Human Rights Watch notes, it's got to be actually available to Iraqis, including refugees who've fled to Syria already, for it to actually work.

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