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Calls for change to immigration polices amid Middle East violence

The unfortunate reality is that the Middle East is currently the site of escalating warfare from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the civil war in Syria. While the ongoing unrest in these two locations has understandably dominated headlines as of late, it's important to remember that there is also another battle being waged in a key Middle Eastern nation, one that has many people calling on the U.S. to revisit its immigration policies.

The conflict in question is actually taking place in Iraq, where a group of Islamic State insurgents known as the ISIS has seized control of large portions of the country and, according to some reports, is now presenting religious minorities in these seized regions with the choice of either converting or being permanently expelled.

One group that advocates say has been specifically targeted by ISIS are Iraqi Christians, or Chaldeans, as they are otherwise known. Indeed, countless media reports have outlined how thousands of Chaldeans have faced not just this expulsion, but deadly violence as well.

The situation has grown so dire that many Chaldeans who have successfully applied for asylum here in the U.S. over the years are now calling on the federal government to take the necessary steps to protect this group from what they classify as systematic oppression and brutal violence.

To that end, they are urging both Congress and the White House to consider a resolution advanced by Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) that would expand protections for not just Chaldeans, but all religious minorities in Iraq.

Specifically, the resolution calls for the visa process to be accelerated for members of these religious minority groups and for a greater percentage of them to be granted asylum here in the U.S. based on prior persecution or a fear of future persecution due to their religious beliefs.

"What we're saying is, keep the 70,000 level -- don't issue more visas -- but reallocate it so that instead of 10,000 coming from the Middle East, make it 50,000 or make it 40,000, just to give these children and families a shot to live," said one advocate.

Stay tuned for developments on this important story ...

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options regarding asylum petitions or adjustments to lawful permanent resident status.

Source: CBS 8, "San Diego's Chaldean community pushes for asylum for Iraqi Christians," Richard Allyn, July 26, 2014

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