U.S. Falls Short of Iraqi Refugee Target

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The United States accepted only some 450 Iraqi refugees in October, well short of the Bush administration's stated goal of 1,000 a month.

The figure also marks a decline from September, when 889 refugees were admitted. Iraq's neighbors have been overwhelmed by a flood of more than 2 million Iraqi refugees fleeing the violence in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion. After being criticized for failing to accept the country's proper share of refugees, the Bush administration vowed that the United States would accept 12,000 Iraqi refugees in fiscal 2008 (out of a total of 80,000 refugees Washington plans to admit).

By contrast, it accepted only 1,608 Iraqis during the last fiscal year—with more than half coming in September. But the process has clearly gotten off to a slow start. Refugee groups have criticized the State and Homeland Security departments for failing to clear up significant bureaucratic hurdles, including multiple interviews and long waiting times for Iraqis applying for refugee status.

The State Department says it has added personnel to process all the applications.

—Kevin Whitelaw

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