US suspends admission programme for certain categories of Iraqi refugees

Decision taken due to the theft of US documents related to asylum for foreigners

The United States authorities have decided to suspend for 90 days the program of reception of some categories of Iraqi refugees after the theft of American documents related to the asylum of foreigners. The decision was announced in a written statement issued by the State Department on Friday by Acting Secretary of State Dan Smith.

He stressed that the programme has been suspended since 22 January. According to the diplomat, “as a result of a joint investigation by the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, the Justice Department is prosecuting individuals for stealing US government documents” from the Foreign Service’s system for processing refugee requests through the Iraqi-linked programme.

The acting secretary considers the suspension of the program “necessary to further analyse and address vulnerabilities”. He said there was no indication that the theft of documents “jeopardised the broader refugee reception programme”.

Under the suspended programme, Iraqis who were, among other things, interpreters for US officials, worked for US media or non-governmental organisations in Iraq could be granted refugee status.


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