< Back to S. 1651 (110th Congress, 2007–2009)

Text of the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act

This bill was introduced on June 19, 2007, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Jun 19, 2007 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

II

110th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 1651

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 19, 2007

(for himself, Mr. Smith, Mr. Biden, Mr. Hagel, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Levin, and Mr. Lieberman) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

A BILL

To assist certain Iraqis who have worked directly with, or are threatened by their association with, the United States, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Findings.

Sec. 3. Processing facilities.

Sec. 4. United States refugee program priorities.

Sec. 5. Special immigrant status for certain Iraqis.

Sec. 6. Minister counselors for Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons.

Sec. 7. Countries with significant populations of displaced Iraqis.

Sec. 8. Denial or termination of asylum.

Sec. 9. Reports.

Sec. 10. Authorization of appropriations.

2.

Findings

Congress makes the following findings:

(1)

The United Nations estimates that there are 2,000,000 Iraqis internally displaced and more than 2,000,000 Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, primarily Jordan and Syria.

(2)

The humanitarian needs of the Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons are significant. If their needs are not quickly and adequately met, these populations could become a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists.

(3)

Iraqi refugees are a significant financial burden on countries in the region. The Iraq Study Group concluded that if the refugee crisis is not addressed, Iraq and the region could be further destabilized.

(4)

Many Iraqis who have worked in critical positions in direct support of the United States Government in Iraq have been killed or injured in reprisals for their support of the American effort. Many more Iraqis associated with the United States have fled Iraq in fear of being killed or injured.

(5)

Although the United States cannot resettle all of Iraq’s refugees in the United States, the United States has a fundamental obligation to help the vast number of Iraqis displaced in Iraq and throughout the region by the war and the associated chaos, especially those who have supported America's efforts in Iraq.

(6)

In April 2007, Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey said the United States could resettle up to 25,000 Iraqi refugees this year. In May 2007, Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky said, “We are committed to honoring our moral debt to those Iraqis who have provided assistance to the United States military and embassy.” On June 8, 2007, Secretary Rice remarked, The people that I'm most worried about in the near term are the people who've worked for and with us who might be subject to recrimination and reprisal..

(7)

It is essential for the United States to develop a comprehensive and effective approach to support host governments and to meet the needs of Iraq’s refugees and internally displaced persons, especially those who are associated with the United States.

3.

Processing facilities

(a)

In general

The Secretary of State shall establish processing facilities in Iraq and in countries in the region in which—

(1)

aliens described in section 4 may apply and interview for admission to the United States as refugees; and

(2)

aliens described in section 5(b) may apply and interview for admission to the United States as special immigrants.

(b)

Report

(1)

In general

Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall submit a report that contains the plans and assessment described in paragraph (2) to—

(A)

the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate;

(B)

the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate;

(C)

the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives; and

(D)

the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.

(2)

Contents

The report submitted under paragraph (1) shall—

(A)

describe the Secretary’s plans to establish the processing facilities described in subsection (a); and

(B)

contain an assessment of in-country processing that makes use of videoconferencing.

4.

United States refugee program priorities

(a)

In general

Priority 2 refugees of special humanitarian concern under the refugee resettlement priority system shall include—

(1)

Iraqis who were employed by, or worked for or directly with the United States Government, in Iraq;

(2)

Iraqis who were employed in Iraq by—

(A)

a media or nongovernmental organization based in the United States; or

(B)

an organization or entity that has received a grant from, or entered into a cooperative agreement or contract with, the United States Government;

(3)

spouses, children, sons, daughters, siblings, and parents of aliens described in paragraph (1) or section 5(b); and

(4)

Iraqis who are members of a religious or minority community and have close family members (as described in sections 201(b)(2)(A)(i) or 203(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1151(b)(2)(A)(i) and 1153(a))) in the United States.

(b)

Identification of other persecuted groups

The Secretary of State is authorized to identify other Priority 2 groups in Iraq.

5.

Special immigrant status for certain Iraqis

(a)

In general

Subject to subsection (c)(1) and notwithstanding any other provision of law, for purposes of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.), the Secretary of Homeland Security may provide an alien described in subsection (b) with the status of a special immigrant under section 101(a)(27) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)), if the alien—

(1)

or an agent acting on behalf of the alien, submits to the Secretary a petition under section 204 of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1154) for classification under section 203(b)(4) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1153(b)(4));

(2)

is otherwise eligible to receive an immigrant visa; and

(3)

is otherwise admissible to the United States for permanent residence (excluding the grounds for inadmissibility specified in section 212(a)(4) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4)).

(b)

Aliens described

(1)

Principal aliens

An alien is described in this subsection if the alien—

(A)

is a national of Iraq;

(B)

was employed by, or worked for or directly with the United States Government in Iraq, in or after 2003, for an aggregate period of not less than 1 year; and

(C)

provided faithful service to the United States Government, which is documented in a positive recommendation or evaluation.

(2)

Spouses and children

An alien is described in this subsection if the alien is—

(A)

the spouse or child of a principal alien described in paragraph (1); and

(B)

is following or accompanying to join the principal alien in the United States.

(c)

Numerical limitations and benefits

(1)

In general

The total number of principal aliens who may be provided special immigrant status under this section may not exceed 5,000 per year for each of the 5 fiscal years beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(2)

Exclusion from numerical limitations

Aliens provided special immigrant status under this section shall not be counted against any numerical limitation under sections 201(d), 202(a), or 203(b)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1151(d), 1152(a), and 1153(b)(4)).

(3)

Benefits

Aliens provided special immigrant status under this section shall be eligible for the same resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits as refugees admitted under section 207 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (8 U.S.C. 1157).

(4)

Carry forward

If the numerical limitation under paragraph (1) is not reached during a given fiscal year, the numerical limitation under paragraph (1) for the following fiscal year shall be increased by a number equal to the difference between—

(A)

the number of visas authorized under paragraph (1) for the given fiscal year; and

(B)

the number of principal aliens provided special immigrant status under this section during the given fiscal year.

(d)

Visa and passport issuance and fees

Neither the Secretary of State nor the Secretary of Homeland Security may charge an alien described in subsection (b) any fee in connection with an application for, or issuance of, a special immigrant visa. The Secretary of State shall ensure that aliens described in this section who are issued special immigrant visas are provided with the appropriate series Iraqi passport necessary to enter the United States.

(e)

Protection of aliens

The Secretary of State, in consultation with other relevant Federal agencies, shall provide an alien described in this section who is applying for a special immigrant visa with protection or the immediate removal from Iraq of such alien if the Secretary determines that such alien is in imminent danger.

(f)

Security

An alien is not eligible to participate in the program authorized under this section if the alien is otherwise inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)).

(g)

Definitions

The terms defined in subsections (a) and (b) of section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101) have the same meanings when used in this section.

(h)

Regulations

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall promulgate regulations to carry out the provisions of this section, including requirements for background checks.

(i)

Savings provision

Nothing in this section may be construed to affect the authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security under section 1059 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 (Public Law 109–163).

6.

Minister counselors for Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons

(a)

In general

The Secretary of State shall establish in the embassy of the United States located in Baghdad, Iraq, a Minister Counselor for Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (referred to in this section as the Minister Counselor for Iraq).

(b)

Duties

The Minister Counselor for Iraq shall be responsible for the oversight of processing for resettlement of persons considered Priority 2 refugees of special humanitarian concern, special immigrant visa programs in Iraq, and the development and implementation of other appropriate policies and programs concerning Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons. The Minister Counselor for Iraq shall have the authority to refer persons to the United States refugee resettlement program.

(c)

Designation of Minister Counselors

The Secretary of State shall designate in the embassies of the United States located in Cairo, Egypt; Amman, Jordan; Damascus, Syria; and Beirut, Lebanon a Minister Counselor to oversee resettlement to the United States of persons considered Priority 2 refugees of special humanitarian concern in those countries to ensure their applications to the United States refugee resettlement program are processed in an orderly manner and without delay.

7.

Countries with significant populations of displaced Iraqis

(a)

In general

With respect to each country with a significant population of displaced Iraqis, including Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Lebanon, the Secretary of State shall—

(1)

as appropriate, consult with other countries regarding resettlement of the most vulnerable members of such refugee populations; and

(2)

develop mechanisms in and provide assistance to countries with a significant population of displaced Iraqis to ensure the well-being and safety of such populations in their host environments.

(b)

Numerical limitations

In determining the number of Iraqi refugees who should be resettled in the United States under sections (a) and (b) of section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1157), the President shall consult nongovernmental organizations that have a presence in Iraq or experience in assessing the problems faced by Iraqi refugees.

(c)

Eligibility for admission as refugee

Section 207(c)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1157(c)(1)) is amended by adding at the end the following: No alien shall be denied the opportunity to apply for admission under this section solely because such alien qualifies as an immediate relative or is eligible for classification as a special immigrant..

8.

Denial or termination of asylum

Section 208(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1158) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(4)

Changed country conditions

An applicant for asylum or withholding of removal, whose claim was denied by an immigration judge solely on the basis of changed country conditions on or after March 1, 2003, may file a motion to reopen to reconsider his or her claim not later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act if the applicant—

(A)

is a national of Iraq; and

(B)

remained in the United States on such date of enactment.

.

9.

Reports

(a)

Secretary of Homeland Security

(1)

In general

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit a report containing plans to expedite the processing of Iraqi refugees for resettlement to—

(A)

the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate;

(B)

the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate;

(C)

the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives; and

(D)

the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.

(2)

Contents

The report submitted under paragraph (1) shall—

(A)

detail the plans of the Secretary for expediting the processing of Iraqi refugees for resettlement including through temporary expansion of the Refugee Corps of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; and

(B)

describe the plans of the Secretary for enhancing existing systems for conducting background and security checks of persons applying for Special Immigrant Visas and of persons considered Priority 2 refugees of special humanitarian concern under this Act, which enhancements shall support immigration security and provide for the orderly processing of such applications without delay.

(b)

President

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the President shall submit to Congress an unclassified report, with a classified annex if necessary, which includes—

(1)

an assessment of the financial, security, and personnel considerations and resources necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act;

(2)

the number of aliens described in section 4(1);

(3)

the number of such aliens who have applied for special immigrant visas;

(4)

the date of such applications; and

(5)

in the case of applications pending for more than 6 months, the reasons that visas have not been expeditiously processed.

10.

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out this Act.