July 7, 2008

It's July 4th. Do You Know Where Your New Iraqi Citizens Are?


Go Bosnia-Herzegovina!

The 46th annual Independence Day naturalization ceremony at Monticello offered the perfect opportunity to call out to the Administration for its pitiful response to Iraqi visa and immigration requests.
(Last year, the US took in just over 1,600 Iraqis, less than a quarter
of its target.  Prior to 2007, fewer than 800 Iraqis were admitted to
the U.S.  Although the pace is finally picking up — the goal this year
is 12,000 — the U.N. estimates 4.7 million Iraqis have been displaced
because of the war.)

According to the NYT story of the event:

After Mr. Bush spoke, the group of immigrants took the oath of citizenship and met the president. At least four of the new citizens were former Iraqis, and one of them, Ali Hussain Al Asady, a 40-year-old former translator who lives in Roanoke, Va., hugged the president and said he passed on a message from family members who remained in Basra. They told him “to tell the president that we thank him because we are a free nation,” Mr. Al Asady said.

Whereas the event offered the chance to photograph Mr. Al Asady with Dubya (or even, alone) and create a visual record of one of the few Iraqis able to obtain U.S. citizenship more than five years after America invaded in Iraq, however,  The New York Times instead chose to publish a variant of the same saccharine shot that the White House published on its photo gallery, of Bush hugging Vesna Zeljkovic, 20, originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina.


As far as I could tell, the two other domestic papers that ran images — WAPO and the Salt Lake City News — went for this darling shot of Julie White Freeman, 8, who was born in China.  Julie was wearing a red-white-and-blue dress which, WAPO reported, "was tailor-made for the occasion."

The WAPO story also mentions Ali Hussain Al Asady, by the way, identifying him as "an Iraqi man with a small U.S. flag sticking out of one buttonhole of his striped shirt."


The White House photo gallery did offer a shot of a cluster of the seventy-four new citizens, but I didn’t see a striped shirt.  The only media image I found on-line offering a group of the immigrants was from The China Post (just above). 

Unfortunately, there weren’t any stripes there, either.

Bush Welcomes 72 New U.S. Citizens (NYT)

UN High Command for Refugees/The Iraq Situation

n E.U., hope dims for Iraqi refugees (CS Monitor)

Report: World ignoring Iraqi refugee crisis (CNN)

(image 1:  White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian. image 2: Pool:Kevin Dietsch/ Getty Images. image 3: unattributed. AP. All taken at Monticello. July 4, 2008.)

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Michael Shaw
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