U.S. must open doors to Iraq refugees

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The following editorial appeared in The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday, Jan. 3:

What does this nation owe those Iraqi people who have risked life and limb to assist our mission there? This important and pressing question should be part of the ongoing discussion in Washington over America’s Iraq policy, especially given the growing anarchy in the country and the distinct possibility that U.S. troops will begin to disengage. If we Americans have any sense of honor, we will not leave those who trusted us to die as collaborators.

According to a report in The New York Times, Bush administration policy-makers have barely begun to think about the issue – perhaps because to give U.S. visas to Iraqis would be taken as an admission that America’s mission there is failing.

It would be outrageous to allow Iraqis who risk everything to help Americans to face death so Uncle Sam could keep up appearances. And if that’s not the case, why are we doing so little for those who took the risk of helping us?

In addition to the translators, clerical staff, cooks and others who would be massacred if America left them behind, religious minorities like Iraqi Christians would be left helpless in the face of jihadist militants. None of these people asked the U.S. to invade; all now face persecution and possibly death because of it. The least we owe them is permanent refuge on our shores.

Though Iraq’s fate is not yet determined, we dare not delay making provision for America’s Iraqi allies, its minority Christians and their families. In the final days before South Vietnam fell to communist forces, the U.S. evacuated 6,000 Vietnamese who had worked closely with Americans.

In the end, 200,000 to 400,000 Vietnamese “collaborators” were sent to labor camps for political indoctrination.

This country’s Iraqi friends would not likely receive even that mercy.

If we don’t want their blood on our hands, the U.S. government must open its doors to those whose “crime,” in the eyes of their would-be executioners, is having had something to do with us.

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