"Why Don't You Just Marry Him?"

"Why don't you just marry Thaer and get him out of Iraq?"

So many people ask me this question, and not only refugees -- even people in the UN and in a U.S. Embassy in another country have asked! It is hard for people to understand that the fiance of an American citizen could actually be trapped in a country, without citizenship and without freedom to move. But this is reality for Thaer Shafiq Ali Abdallah, my fiance. And it is true for most Palestinians in Iraq.

Here's the deal:

1) The U.S. Embassy in Iraq will not process immigrant visa applications -- not for fiances and not even for spouses.

2) People who want to immigrate from Iraq to the U.S. must go outside Iraq, usually to Jordan or Syria, to apply at the U.S. embassy elsewhere.

3) Palestinians in Iraq have no citizenship, passports, or travel documents that are recognized by Jordan or Syria, so they cannot cross the land borders of Iraq. They cannot legally travel to Jordan or Syria! They could theoretically fly out of Baghdad to Europe or elsewhere, but they would still need a visa and most of their travel documents (including Thaer's) have long ago expired. To renew their documents in Baghdad is a life-threatening endeavor.

In summary -- the U.S. policy to not process immigrant visas at the embassy in Baghdad requires Thaer to do something which, because of his race, he is unable legally to do.


See the email below, from the U.S. Consul in Baghdad.

From: "Baghdad, USConsul
To: "Sheila Provencher" Baghdad, USConsul"
Subject: RE: regarding marriage visas
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2007 13:35:53 +0400

Dear Ms. Provencher,

Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, U.S. Embassy Baghdad does not process or accept any immigrant visas.

At the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, we only accept applications for three types of nonimmigrant visas (Diplomatic and Government Officials, Representatives to International Organizations, and USG-funded exchangevisitors).

All other nonimmigrant and immigrant visa applications must be filed at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of Iraq.

Sincerely, U.S. Consul, Baghdad