Why is the security clearance process for Iraqi refugees taking so long?

Some background about this question:

  • Until a few months ago, the average processing time for a refugee application was approximately 8-10 months from the time of referral from UNHCR.
    • The process for Iraqis in Jordan was approximately seven months and considerably longer for Iraqis in Iraq.
  • However, since February 2011 when changes were made in the U.S. security check system, the process is taking longer for all refugees. 
  • Also, after May 2011, ADDITIONAL SECURITY CHECKS WERE ADDED FOR IRAQIS, after two Iraqi refugees in Kentucky were charged with providing arms and money to Al Qaeda in Iraq. The men are in jail awaiting trial.1
  • There was a virtual hold on visas for all Iraqis.  In addition, some refugees who had already been accepted for resettlement have had their offers rescinded (taken back) as a result of the new security checks. 
    • As of Jul7 2011, at least 62,000 Iraqis (29,000 who worked for American troops and diplomats, and their family members) had applications pending to enter the U.S.  ((New York Times Editorial, They Risked Their Lives,  July 30, 2011))
    • The total number of refugees who entered the U.S. in the fiscal year ending on September 30, 2011 was nearly 20,000 fewer than the year before and 24,000 less than the 80,000 authorized by Congress.2.
    • A State Department official acknowledged that admittances of Iraqi refugees to the U.S. would drop in 2011 even for Iraqis who are at risk of persecution. ((New York Times Editorial, They Risked Their Lives,  July 30, 2011))
    • Journalist George Packer wrote in July 2011, “[t]he Kentucky case has spooked the agencies and removed any incentive for jittery officials to do right by the Iraqis who, at unbelievable risk to themselves and their families, supported the U.S. during the long years of war.” ((Iraqi Refugees: A Debt Defaulted, New Yorker Magazine, George Packer, July 29, 2011))
    •  “The flow of Iraqis to the U.S. in 2011 could be the smallest since 2007, when the Bush Administration was facing an uproar for not effectively addressing the refugee crisis.”3
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  1. New York Times Editorial, They Risked Their Lives,  July 30, 2011 []
  2. Refugees, Hairdressers and Homeland Securityby Mark Hetfield (Senior Vice President of HIAS), Huffington Post, 10/7/2011 []
  3. New York Times article, Visa Delays Put Iraqis Who Aided U.S. in Fearby Tim Arango, July 12, 2011 []

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  • انني عبد الستار محمد وعائلتي قدمنا على برنامج اعادة التوطين منذ 2008 ولم نحصل غلى اى فرصه للسفرلحد الان
    اني رجل احب امريكا بل واؤمن بامريكا وكذلك عائلتي ونتمنى ان نكون مثل باقي اللاجئين اللذين تمتعوا بفرصة دخول الاراضي الامريكيه واني عملت مع شركة الي بي ار منذ عام 2004 وحتى 2009 وكانت تلك السنين من اصعب السنين علي وعلى عائلتي فقد كان الموت ينتظرنا في كل شارع التنظيمات الارهابيه تطلبنا احياء او اموات لانها تعتبرنا مساعدين للقوات الامريكيه وقد نجونا من تللك المليشيات بمعجزه والان وقد انسحبت القوات الامريكيه وظهرت شعارات المنظمات الارهابيه في شوارع بغداد تقول نحن دمرنا المحتل واعوانهواني اعتقد ان الارهابيين سوف لن ينسوا ابدا كوننا عملنا مع الجيش الامريكي وسوف يقومون بقتلنا طال ام قصر الزمان لماذ تتركونا لمصيرنا من سيساعدنا اذا ما قررت الجهات الجهاديه كما تسمي نفسها بقتلنا؟ اليس المبدأالعسكري الامريكي يقول لاتترك رجلا خلفك لماذا ننتظر منذ 3 اعوام تاشيره الخول ولم نحصل عليها هل يعقل ان التشييك الامني يطول 3 اعوام المشكله ان المنظمه الدوليه للهجره لاتعطينا حتى جواب كلما ارسلنا رساله للاستفسار يكون جوابهم ليس عندنا معلومات الموافقات من امريكا اننا نطالب بحقنا كطالبي لجؤ انا وعائلتي ونطلب ان يتم منحنا حق التاشيره لدخول البلد الذي نعتقد انه خلاصنا وهو ارض السلام والحريه لنعيش كباقي اللاجئين نحترم امريكا ونعطيها كما تعطينا وكما تقبلنا في اراضيها اني ارجو من المجتمع الامريكي ورئيسه المحترم اوباما والكونغرس ان يساعدونا باسرع مايمكن ولكم الشكر

    Answer shared by عبدالستار محمد — January 1, 2012 @ 2:54 am

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4
  • هائلة على القضايا refugeeroadmap.org. أنا مرتاح جدا للند مقالك. شكرا كثيرا وأنا أتطلع قدما لمسة لك. سوف تتكرم قطرة لي بريد؟

    Answer shared by website promotions — September 1, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

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  • I am somali I neet. Refugee in canada halp

    Answer shared by ali dhoof — February 22, 2013 @ 10:19 am

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