NGO Letter to Stephen HadleyDecember 12, 2007
Stephen J. Hadley
National Security Advisor
1st Floor, West Wing
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20504
Dear Mr. Hadley:
We understand that a Deputies Committee Meeting of the National Security Council has been scheduled for December 12 and that the agenda will include an item critical to our organizations: priority processing for Iraqi refugees of special humanitarian concern to the United States.
We welcome the National Security Council’s involvement in the protection and timely resettlement of Iraqi refugees in peril. We also deeply appreciate your personal statements on the matter, and your suggestion that the administration must do more to resettle the most vulnerable and help support countries in the region hosting significant numbers of refugees.
We are deeply concerned, however, that a lack of interagency cooperation is undermining the administration’s response to the refugee crisis. Recent news reports have suggested that interagency tension and bureaucratic struggles have delayed progress on the administration’s plans to provide some Iraqis direct access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and to develop mechanisms for in-country processing. Our organizations were particularly alarmed by a recent report that the Iraq Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons Task Force, led by Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, does not regularly meet.
We appreciate the appointments of State Department Senior Coordinator on Iraqi Refugee Issues James Foley and Department of Homeland Security Senior Advisor on Iraqi Refugee Issues Lori Scialabba. However, we are concerned that if these individuals do not have full public backing by you and by the Secretary of State – as well as by the President -- they will have little practical ability to resolve disputes between their agencies or to improve the U.S. response to the Iraqi refugee crisis.
As you are undoubtedly aware, the final Department of Defense Authorization Conference Report includes language on the protection and resettlement of Iraqi refugees. The DoD Authorization Bill will likely become law in the very near future. We urge you to use your meeting today to incorporate an interagency system that comports with, and does not undermine, the requirements of the Iraqi refugee provision of this bi-partisan legislation.
Human Rights First
Kenneth H. Bacon, President
Gideon Aronoff, President & CEO
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
Elissa Massimino, Washington Director
Human Rights First
George Rupp, President and Chief Executive Officer.
International Rescue Committee
Joseph Kassab, Executive Director, Immigration and Refugees Office
Chaldean Federation of America
C. Richard Parkins, Director
Episcopal Migration Ministries
Ralston H. Deffenbaugh, Jr., President
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Larry Siems, Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs
PEN American Center
Carolyn Makinson, Executive Director
Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children