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July 20, 2007

Sadly Noted: We Are "Done" With Iraq, and with its suffering people too
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Remember a while back when an outcry went up about how few Iraqi refugees the US was admitting?  Then the US pledged to take 25,000, a whopping one percent, of the 2.2 million estimated to need resettlement?

We were supposed to resettle 7,000 in FY '07 (which ends in September), but the US recently announced we would only process 2,000 by then.  Only 133 have made it into the country so far, apparently thanks mostly to the careful work of the Department of Homeland Security.

Warren, Michigan (an industrial city outside Detroit) has a large population of Iraqi Chaldean Christians.  It made the Money Magazine top 100 places to live in the US last year.  It also has a lot of unemployed former industrial workers in a state with the highest unemployment rate in the country.  Many of the Iraqis applying to come here have family there.  Although the Administration pledged to spread refugees around the country, local civic and religious groups have begun gearing up to welcome the newcomers.

Not the Mayor of Warren, who this week sent out a news release claiming that 15,000 Iraqis were coming to "unfairly burden" Warren and neighboring Sterling Heights.  (Interestingly, the good people of Sterling Heights seem to be coping just fine.)

The press release that Warren's Congressman, long-serving Democrat Sander Levin, put out in response is quite an indictment both of how little the US is actually doing on refugee resettlement and how viciously Warren Mayor Steenbergh seems to have distorted that pathetic reality.  How many refugees are expected in Michigan in the coming weeks?  90.  How many of those are expected in Warren and Sterling Heights combined?  45.

Kudos to Levin and shame on us. Not just on Mayor Steenbergh and his fear-mongering, but all of us who don't live where employment is 6.9 percent and no new jobs are coming soon, who talk and think about Iraq being "over" like pulling a tooth or driving away from a traffic jam. 


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