ASYLUM BILL INTRODUCED FOR IRAQI RELIGIOUS MINORITIES

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By Miriam Raftery

“We are confident that with the continued support of the citizens of San Diego, we will not only be able to give a hope to the hopeless, but a state to the stateless.” -- MarkArabo

September 9, 2014 (San Diego) – Congressman Juan Vargas is introducing a new bill that would grant asylum for religious minorities displaced by the ISIS, or Islamic State, terrorists in Iraq.

The bill would raise the current limit of 70,000 people who can be granted asylum from that region. It would also waive some paperwork and identification requirements, since many refugees were forced to flee in haste to avoid being killed by the terrorists, who were beheading people who refused to convert to Islam.

Local Iraqi Christian leader Mark Arabo and Bishop Sarhad Jammo from the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of St. Peter’s in El Cajon traveled to Washington D.C. this week to lobby for the measure. Arabo has spent weeks painstakingly collecting documentation on tens of thousands of displaced Iraqis, in order to provide names, faces and stories to show the reality of this tragedy.

In a statement sent to East County Magazine, Arabo says, "What began 10 weeks ago has finally culminated in a piece of comprehensive legislation that will grant Iraqi Christians the chance for new life within the United States.” He adds that resolutions passed in both California’s Legislature and the U.S. Congress show that the public is accepting towards the idea of granting a home for these refugees.

A fundraiser held in El Cajon recently raised over half a million dollars to help the refugees.

Arabo told the UT San Diego that many Iraqi immigrants living here, as well as some long-time San Diego residents, have told him they are willing to open their own homes to take in refugees.  He concludes, “We are confident that with the continued support of the citizens of San Diego, we will not only be able to give a hope to the hopeless, but a state to the stateless."

If you would like to provide a home for a refugee or refugee family from Iraq, or donate to help relief efforts to help these refugees, you can sign up at the Minority  Humantarian Foundation website at http://MinorityHF.org.