Two Refugee Flows That Aren't Alike

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Julia Taft's June 24 op-ed, "Fleeing Our Responsibility," called for the administration to assist displaced Iraqis by emulating the Ford administration's resettlement of more than 131,000 Vietnamese in 1975.

I agree that "welcoming the persecuted and standing by our friends is the right thing to do." But Iraq is not Vietnam, and conditions today are different from those in 1975.

Unlike Vietnam, we have not left Iraq. Unlike 1975, in today's post-Sept. 11 world every individual seeking resettlement must undergo rigorous security screening to ensure that anyone wishing to harm Americans is not admitted to the United States.

Not all displaced Iraqis want to come to the United States. António Guterres, U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said the preferred solution for most of Iraqi refugees will be their voluntary return as conditions permit. Surrounding countries are providing refuge.

The United States has funded 30 percent of the appeal from the high commissioner for $60 million to help Iraqis, and we intend to support generously the supplemental appeal expected this month.

For Iraqis who need resettlement, we have built up an infrastructure in the region to process their applications, speeding the cases of those who worked for the United States. People are arriving in the United States, and their numbers will increase sharply in the months ahead.

ELLEN R. SAUERBREY

Assistant Secretary of State

for Population, Refugees and Migration

Washington


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