Patriot Act unfairly turns victims into `supporters’ of terrorist actions
By Anna Husarska
Article Launched: 04/26/2007 01:36:33 AM PDT

The civil war in Iraq has stranded 2 million Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries – and Washington says that up to 7,000 of them may be resettled in the United States this year. But which ones?

During a recent trip to the Middle East, I talked with many refugees who seemed to deserve resettlement in the United States, but may never get it. Even though they have been brutalized by the factional fighting in Iraq, the U.S. government might label them “supporters of terrorism.”

Here is how it happens. After the United Nations or another non-governmental agency determines that a person has a “well-founded fear of persecution” in his or her country of origin, the refugee is interviewed by officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The screening includes detailed questions to make sure all of the anti-terrorism provisions of the USA Patriot Act and the Real ID Act are met.

This is understandable – but there is a flaw in the laws.

The definition of who provides “material support” to terrorists is unreasonably broad. There have been several legislative attempts to fix it, but the provisions still stand, largely unchanged, preventing resettlement of Iraqis like these three I met in February and March. (Read whole article by clicking above for details.)

….Over the past year, I traveled to half a dozen countries in Africa and Asia and saw bona fide refugees barred from entering the U.S. because of obstacles that seem similarly absurd. But the U.S. government bears special responsibility for the war in Iraq, so the mindless application of “material support” provisions to Iraqi victims of terrorism would be particularly deplorable.

The 7,000 Iraqi refugees to be resettled this year in the United States have yet to arrive. So there is still time to pass legislation, or reform the Immigration and Nationality Act, to apply definitions that don’t turn victims of terrorism into supposed terrorists themselves.


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