Increased Arrivals of Iraqi Refugees to the United States

By Mary Ann Zehr — March 17, 2009 1 min read
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The United States received 13,823 refugees from Iraq in fiscal 2008, up from 1,608 the previous year, according to the Migration Policy Institute, which has gathered information about Iraqi immigrants in this country. The United States has also authorized 5,000 special immigrant visas each year through 2012 for Iraqis who were U.S. government contractors in Iraq for a minimum of one year since the start of the war.

The arrival of thousands of Iraqi refugees means that some of you are receiving Iraqi children in your classrooms for English-language learners. For some background information on them, see “Refugees from Iraq,” a publication of the Center for Applied Linguistics.

The numbers from the Migration Policy Institute indicate that this resettlement stream may continue for a while. Since Oct. 1, the start of fiscal 2009, the federal government has received nearly 4,500 Iraqi refugees.

Let me take this opportunity to note that Education Week has been recognized for its work last year in reporting on Iraqi refugees in Jordan. The newspaper received a “special citation” from the Education Writers Association in the category of “multimedia” for its package of photos, stories, videos, and audio called “The Lost Years: Iraqi Students in Jordan.” The package was a collaborative effort by Christopher Powers, EdWeek‘s assistant director of photography, myself, and Yasmine Mousa, an Iraqi freelancer who was living in Jordan at the time that we did our reporting there last February. She has since resettled in Canada.

Keep me posted on how Iraqi refugee children are adapting to your schools and communities.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.