Thursday, September 20, 2007

Brave Iraqi Men and Women

I'm on Ted Kennedy's email list. He puts out some interesting things every so often and this is one of them. It certainly seems worth looking into. I don't know much more about the issue than what he has written here, but it seems like a valid point. bh


American soldiers aren't the only ones in danger in Iraq.

Thousands of brave Iraqi men and women work alongside our military, State Department, contractors and non-governmental organizations in Iraq, meeting a critical need for Arabic translators and supporting our effort in Iraq.

Now insurgents are hunting down these cooperative Iraqis and killing them and their families for working with "the enemy."

Regardless of where we stand on the war, the US has an obligation to help the Iraqis who have supported our troops -- and whose lives are in peril as a result.

The Bush Administration has failed this obligation and left these brave friends behind -- and that's unacceptable. That's why I'm sponsoring bipartisan legislation to make it easier for Iraqis associated with the US to seek refugee status and escape the consequences of their collaboration.

Show your support for the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act:

This issue isn't as well known as it should be, so make sure you spread the word. Here are some compelling numbers:

The State Department pledged to process 25,000 Iraqi refugee applications this year. Then they reduced that number 7,000 -- and later to 2,000.

With only a few days left in the fiscal year, fewer than 1,000 refugees have been admitted to the United States. One Iraqi translator told 60 Minutes:

"I lost everything. I lost my country, I cannot stay there anymore, and I lost all my friends. I can't see them, I lost my family, and I feel like a prisoner."

There has to be a better way. While the United States cannot resettle every Iraqi refugee, we can't ignore the mortal danger facing these brave Iraqis working with our country.

The legislation I've introduced streamlines the process for Iraqis who have worked with us to receive refugee status. It also makes 5,000 special immigrant visas available to those who have worked with our government for a year.

Too many Iraqis have already died for helping our troops. Tell President Bush to protect the people who are protecting us:

The United States doesn't have many friends in Iraq these days, and we aren't helping the situation.

As Retired General Paul Eaton said:

"Anybody who threw their lot in with the Americans deserves an opportunity for a future. And the loyalty has got to be in both directions. If we do not take care of these people, then the signal to anybody else in the future is a bad signal. And if you throw your lot with the United States, they'll use you for a while and then they will - they'll just cut you off," he argues.

Asked if he thinks it's a matter of honor, Eaton says, "I believe this is a matter of morality."

Many of us disagree with President Bush's failed war, but that doesn't mean we can turn our backs on these Iraqi men and women. Americans have paid a terrible price for this war -- but we must not forget the Iraqis who are paying a terrible price as well.


Senator Edward M. Kennedy