Walleser: The List: Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies

In the months since my last post “On Mercy and Redress,” The List : Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies has grown in scope as well as in influence, but it still has a long way to go to fulfill its goals. Kirk W. Johnson, the creator of the Project has testified before congressional committees and appeared on television in order to detail the plight of these Iraqi refugees, as well as the hoops that they and his organization must jump through in order to get them here. He continuously seeks to rally for those colleagues of his that were left behind by the United States Government.

In May, The List Project was featured on 60 Minutes. Johnson expressed the staggering toll that has been meted out to these Iraqis. “The people on my list have been tortured, they’ve been raped, they’ve lost body limbs. There’s one guy on my list who’s been thrown out of a moving vehicle. And all of this because they helped us. They came every single day to try to pitch in, in our efforts there.” It is this tragedy that makes it imperative that we aid those who aided us in Iraq, that we bring them to safety where they no longer have to fear for the loss of their livelihood, and in many cases their lives.

The AP recently reported that the United States allowed 1,721 Iraqi refugees into the country in June, which keeps it on track to accomplish the goal that the administration set to receive 12,000 by the end of the fiscal year. The List Project has also seen an uptick in the number of Iraqis that it has worked to bring here, and is now also working hard to find them opportunity and stability in a new country. Yet the allowance of 12,000 Iraqis into these vast United States is a paltry figure at best, and more must be done to help these Iraqis.

What is clear is that the Iraqi Refugee crisis is still an emergency of the utmost magnitude. It is only just now beginning to receive the press coverage it deserves. Almost every day there is a new person added to The List, someone in desperate need of assistance from the government it helped in Iraq, and from the government who has now increasingly betrayed them in a pile of dusty legal papers and bureaucratic bungling. Take, for instance a recent episode of Dan Rather Reports [click here for transcript] which details one of the many aspects of the bureaucratic nightmare which many Iraqis have to navigate through in order to be allowed into the U.S. According to the report The Patriot act has such a broad definition of terrorism, that it includes within that definition those people who have paid money to terrorist organizations. That is all well and good yet it does not account for many instances in which families have paid ransoms to terrorist organizations in order to save their loved ones. The Department of Homeland Security and congress have to some extent attempted to blunt this trauma, by presenting waivers to some Iraqis, but the process is slow and grueling.

Now, in order to make the most of the recent press as well as to get out the word of the organization, The List Project has created a Netroots program which seeks to bring people together in a social networking experiment (vis a vis Myspace). Its goal is to develop upon recent successes, and create tangible groups that will eventually meet together and work to sponsor Iraqi Refugees coming to the United States. It will also continue the organizations push to make the U.S. government act more quickly in order to process these Iraqis. By expanding the reach of the organization, It can therefore extend its advocacy programs and make more inroads at solving this continuing crisis.

The Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security should not be allowed to sit casually by as this crisis deepens, as more lives are lost, as more families are separated and torn apart by the war. Although there is some movement in the process, more must be done, and more can be done to help a struggling community of refugees build back up the shattered temple of their dreams.

If you are interested in Joining The List Project Netroots, please go to Netroots/thelistproject.org

Matthew Walleser
Undergraduate in History and International Studies University of Iowa