Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Biden Administration Restarts Troubled Iraqi Refugee Program; U.S. to Resume Iraqi Refugee Program After Fraud Investigation

Biden administration restarts troubled Iraqi refugee program:
The State Department said it is reviving an Iraqi refugee program that was abruptly shut down early last year after investigators discovered government employees had been pilfering files to help people file bogus applications.
Department officials insisted the vulnerabilities that led to the massive fraud that tainted thousands of applications have been fixed, though they were cagey on the details and wouldn’t say whether anyone has lost status because of the breach.
“During our review of the Iraqi P-2 Program, we identified and resolved the issues that led to our suspension of the program in January of 2021. We are committed to ensuring that only bonafide and qualified Iraqis who supported U.S. efforts in Iraq are considered for this important humanitarian program,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday in announcing the restart.
The P-2 program is a special refugee category that’s supposed to reward Iraqis who assisted the U.S. in the lengthy war effort.
It was abruptly shut down just after President Biden took office last year, when authorities revealed a major breach in the P-2 program’s files. They found that two Homeland Security contractors had gotten access to hundreds of applicants’ files and were shipping the information to their ringleader, Aws Abduljabbar, who was using it to help other Iraqis file bogus applications.
Abduljabbar pleaded guilty to his role in the scam this year.
Robert Law, a former senior official at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said he’s wary of the State Department’s assurances that they’ve fixed things. --->READ MORE HERE
Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS
U.S. to resume Iraqi refugee program after fraud investigation:
The United States said on Tuesday it has reopened a refugee program for Iraqis that was placed on hold for more than a year during an investigation into fraud.
Officials will resume processing applications that were suspended during the probe and accepting new petitions for resettlement as part of the Iraqi "Direct Access" refugee program, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of State.
More than 40,000 applications that covered more than 104,000 people were frozen when the probe was launched in January 2021. U.S. investigators suspected some 4,000 Iraqis of filing false applications for resettlement as refugees.
The U.S. Department of State said it "identified and resolved" its concerns about the program and would ensure that only "bona fide and qualified Iraqis" are considered for resettlement.
"The United States is committed to ensuring those who sacrificed their own safety for our collective interests have an opportunity to seek refuge in the United States," department spokesperson Ned Price said in the statement. --->READ MORE HERE
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