In recent days and weeks I have been contacted by Iraqis eager to bring their family members to the United States. Unfortunately, the waiting period for refugees and their families can stretch into years before a visa becomes available. This is due to bureaucratic hurdles and a ceiling on the number of refugees the U.S. is authorized to accept each year. This recent article in the New York Times explains it well:
Here are a couple of excerpts from that article:
“The Obama administration has promised a gradual increase in the total refugees it resettles — from a current ceiling of 70,000 each year to 85,000 next year and 100,000 in 2017. That falls far short of what refugee advocates are demanding, but American officials say even the current goals will not be easy to pull off…”
“At least 18,000 Syrians and 55,000 Iraqis are in the pipeline, having been vetted by the United Nations and now waiting to have their cases examined by the United States — Adnan among them. About half are children.
They are part of what the United Nations calls a historic global displacement, with nearly 60 million people forced to flee their homes because of war and persecution. Hundreds of thousands, including Syrians and Iraqis, have poured into Europe in recent months in the Continent’s worst refugee crisis in decades.”
Recently I have been referring people to a refugee organization that I have worked with in a volunteer capacity as a supervisory attorney for UCLA and Loyola Law School students. The organization used to be solely for Iraqis and known as the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project. With the worsening violence in Syria and throughout the Middle East, it has expanded its mission and changed its name to the International Refugee Assistance Project. They will conduct intake for potential refugee cases.
Currently, my practice involves assisting people applying for asylum in the U.S. I am researching to see if there is more I can do on behalf of refugees as well. However, if the only option is to keep waiting, then there is little assistance that I or another attorney can provide.