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U.S. Allowing Fewer Refugees than Promised

During the last year, the U.S. has admitted more than 1,600 refugees from Iraq. But that's more than 5,000 short of officials' original objectives for this year.

The slow rate of refugee processing led U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker to write a memo asking program officials to pick up the pace.

Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, has spent two days in Boise, Idaho. The city has accepted many Burmese and Iraqi refugees. She says she understands the frustration Crocker and the refugees feel. As a humanitarian program, she says her staff wants to help the refugees are quickly as possible.


But when the program to assist Iraqi refugees was started in 2006, there was no infrastructure in place. And because the Department of Homeland Security must screen every refugee to ensure dangerous individuals or Iraqis with terrorist ties do not get in to the United States, the processing is slow.

Dr. Najeeb, an Iraqi ophthalmologist living in Jordan, is one of the thousands of Iraqis who have applied to the refugee program. He left Iraq after an American soldier shot his son, who has been left in a vegetative state following several surgeries.

Najeeb says he hopes to join his other son in Michigan, where local charities and the federal government have programs to assist him and his injured son.

Najeeb has been cleared to come to the U.S. as a refugee. He could leave Jordan as soon as next week.

Sauerbrey and Najeeb talk about the refugee situation with Madeleine Brand.


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