While the British Government fails to make up its mind on the fate of Iraqi asylum seekers, the US sentate has done the decent thing. An ammendment to a defense bill by Senator Ted Kennedy (D, Mass) means Iraqis who have worked for US forces can rely on a speedy asylum process (via Norm):
The amendment raises the number of Iraqi interpreters and U.S. government employees (with at least one year of service) who can be admitted under a special immigrant visa program from five hundred to five thousand each year for the next five years. It creates a special category (“Priority 2”) of persecuted Iraqis—including U.S. employees, people working for American news and nongovernmental organizations, contractors, and members of religious minorities, and their families—whose refugee applications can be heard directly by the U.S. government without a United Nations referral, which should speed up and streamline an extremely sluggish process.
There’s a campaign to introduce similar measures here in the UK. Dan reminds us about the meeting next week at Portcullis House, and how you can invite your MP.
Meanwhile, in the week after Gordon Brown said “Human Rights are Universal”, the Independent interviews asylum seekers from Darfur, Zimbabwe and Burma who are about to be deported back to their countries of origin, where they will be in grave danger. This confusion is testimony to how poisoned the immigration debate has become, with “illegal immigrants” confused with economic migrants, asylum seekers, and legal refugees. The fact that government departments and agencies are so slow to adopt the morally decent policy on these issues is, I think, a failure of leadership. They need political cover from Ministers.