Why Haven`t You Heard Of “Operation Iraqi Asylum”?

Here`s a long-overdue New Year`s
resolution for America: bring back the

to fight the war and keep the peace in Iraq .
. . but only for able-bodied Iraqis already in the
United States, especially those here based on asylum

While the United States expends
increasing amounts of


to make Iraq safe for

(among other things), the federal
immigration bureaucracy is also keeping a back-door open
for able-bodied Iraqis to flee their native country and
remain in the United States to pursue applications for
asylum and adjustments of status in potentially
unlimited numbers.

Here`s the problem: whether under
an outright grant of

refugee status
, or simply under the pretense of
for asylum, the federal government permits
able-bodied Iraqi-born citizens to hide out in the
United States while American soldiers are fighting and
dying in their stead.

Has anyone in government thought
this through yet?

One would assume that as part of
"Operation Iraqi Freedom,"
the U.S. military would
want to help find and train new recruits for the

Iraqi National Guard
or Iraqi police forces to help
keep peace in the newly-liberated land.

So why not start with the fresh
Iraqi recruits right in our own backyard?

Able-bodied Iraqi refugees and
asylum applicants just so happen to have been born in
Iraq. They would supposedly have an interest in the
success of the new Iraqi government (much more so than
the average American, at least). And they even speak the

So how about it, Mr. President? How
about helping the morale of the American troops in Iraq
by sending all able-bodied Iraqis—starting with current
asylum-seekers and those previously granted asylum—out
on the next plane to Baghdad to defend their

Amazingly, no one in the media has
yet to report on the lesser-known counterpart to
"Operation Iraqi Freedom"
—that is, the ongoing "Operation
Iraqi Asylum
" in the United States.

So who in the federal government is
granting asylum to Iraqi nationals in this time of
unprecedented war waged for their liberation?

Answer: the usual unseen federal
immigration bureaucracy suspects.

"Operation Iraqi Asylum"—my
joking name for an unfunny reality—is administered daily
by the Department of Homeland Security`s Citizenship and
Immigration Services (CIS) division as well as the
Immigration Court system of the Department of Justice`s
Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

Iraqi refugees
also are admitted outright by the
U.S. Department of State and ushered into the United
States by a federal social services agency par

Office of Refugee Resettlement
(ORR) of the
Department of Health and Human Services.

The mother lode of the current "Operation
Iraqi Asylum
is within the Department of
State. In a

report to Congress
, the State Department estimates
that 2,000 Iraqis will be referred for its resettlement
program in

fiscal year

In order to meet the definition of
a refugee (also necessary for asylum), an alien must
prove past persecution (or a well-founded fear of future
persecution) under one of five

statutorily protected grounds
: race, religion,
nationality, membership in a

particular social group,
or political opinion.

An alien granted refugee status in
the United States—either outright or in conjunction with
an application for asylum—can apply for a resident alien
card (a "green
for lawful permanent resident status)
within a year after entry.

Unfortunately, international alien
smuggling enables virtually anyone in the world without
legal documents to bypass the system of U.S. consular
refugee processing abroad if they feel like it.

can "beat the system" by just

showing up
without documents at any U.S. land border
or airport on American soil to request asylum through
the "credible fear" process of Immigration
Section 235(b). They`re promptly rewarded by being
released from custody, allowed to travel on to another
city, where they perhaps later may appear for an EOIR
Immigration Court hearing to be awarded asylum.

The potential for abuse of the
current system is so great, that the DHS "credible
review and EOIR asylum process has the
potential to become the greatest back-door entry/amnesty
program of all. The smoking gun of asylum opportunism is
all there in black-and-white in Immigration Act Sections
208, 209 and 235.

It`s not at all surprising that
Iraqis have been applying for asylum in the United
States in a steady stream over the years.

The real story here: they have
not stopped coming and applying since the downfall of
Saddam Hussein and his evil Baath Party

The clues of the uninterrupted flow
of Iraqi asylum claims hide within data published in

statistical yearbooks
by the EOIR`s Office of
Planning and Analysis.

The EOIR Immigration Court received
775 new applications for asylum from Iraqis placed in
removal proceedings during fiscal years 2003 and 2004,
from October 2002 until September 2004. The EOIR granted
312 applications outright during that time period.

Remember that "Operation Iraqi
officially started with the bombardment of
Baghdad on March 19, 2003.

But that`s only the beginning.

As I have

explained previously
, the EOIR`s statistics are
presented in such a convoluted manner that counting
"completed cases"
doesn`t give an accurate picture
of how many applications for relief (including
applications for asylum) are actually approved by the
federal immigration bureaucracy.

For example, the EOIR`s appellate
body, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), can simply
decide to remand (that is, send back) cases to the EOIR
immigration judges as a matter of course to give aliens
yet another chance at an asylum hearing all over again.

The bottom line: EOIR statistics do
not show how many Iraqis have actually been granted
asylum in the United States. Data as to how many asylum
applications have been granted by the DHS` CIS division
is not published for the public either.

But no matter how many able-bodied
Iraqis are ushered in as refugees, or are simply being
given shelter in the United States while their
applications for political asylum float through the
never-ending EOIR litigation process, one able-bodied
Iraqi lounging in the United States during wartime is too

You would think that Iraqi claims
for asylum in the United States after the fall of Saddam
Hussein are inherently suspect, given the presence of
the American military on the ground in Iraq, actively
seeking to keep the peace . . . or at least assure that
no one is persecuted by the government.

Even the United Nations, through
its Office of High
Commissioner for Refugees

grudgingly a
cknowledges that tens of
thousands of Iraqis have actually returned home since
the advent of Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to the


"It is
estimated that between 2003 and 2005, more than 253,000
people returned to Iraq, most of them spontaneously. A
total of 23,074 Iraqis chose to return voluntarily from
Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and other countries
with assistance from UNHCR. However, because of the
security situation, the agency has never promoted
returns to any part of Iraq.
Policy Forum
, "UNHCR Issues New Guidelines on
Iraqi Asylum Seekers,
September 27, 2005.]

So given the billions, if not
trillions, of American taxpayer dollars expended
ostensibly to make Iraq a livable place for Iraqis,
should these same Iraqi nationals also be allowed to
simultaneously seek asylum in the United States . . .
even during this extraordinary military and financial

And if the United States ever were
to abandon the field of battle in Iraq, one must shudder
to think how many countless more "refugees" (bona
otherwise) would try their hand at

showing up
at a port of entry on American soil and
filing for asylum.

The American Mainstream Media has
been predictably out to lunch on the asylum questions
raised by the war in Iraq.

But given the

effort they`ve expended
investigating the improper
use of


dog collars
in the prosecution of the war, doesn`t
the story of the incongruous "Operation Iraqi Asylum"
deserve some reportage?

Juan Mann [email
him] is
an attorney and the proprietor of

He writes a weekly column for

contributes to Michelle Malkin`s

Immigration BLOG