U.S. may take 25,000 Iraqi refugees

April 18, 2007 at 11:28 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department says the United States is willing to accept 25,000 Iraqi refugees this year.

Speaking in Geneva after a U.N.-sponsored summit on the Iraqi refugee crisis, Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, told reporters the existing number of 7,000 could be moved up to take pressure off Iraq's neighbors, Jordan and Syria.

"It's fair to say that if we get the referrals (from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees), we could resettle up to 25,000 Iraqi refugees within the president's determination this year," Sauerbrey said.

In a separate development, Paula Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs, announced Washington's plan to make it easier for Iraqis and Afghans working for the United States to move to the United States, the Washington Times reported Wednesday.

Currently, local employees known as Foreign Service nationals become eligible for resident visas after 15 years of service, but bills before the U.S. House and Senate would lower the requirement to three years of service, the report said.

The United States has resettled 466 Iraqis since the war began in 2003.

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