Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Legislator’s Wife Is Allowed to Stay in U.S.

ATLANTA, Dec. 5 — The wife of a Georgia state legislator who was facing deportation reported to federal court on Tuesday morning expecting to be arrested. Instead, an immigration judge allowed her to return to her suburban home.

The judge stayed the deportation order against the woman, Sascha Herrera Thompson, 28, and agreed to reopen her case. Upon hearing the decision, Ms. Thompson and her husband, State Senator Curt B. Thompson, 37, “both just started to cry,” said Charles H. Kuck, their lawyer.
Ms. Thompson, who married Mr. Thompson in April and is studying for a master’s degree in professional writing, could have been charged with a felony and barred from re-entering the United States for 10 years.

Ms. Thompson, a native of Colombia, had been in hiding since Nov. 28, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents appeared at the couple’s home in Norcross, Ga.

Mr. Thompson said he and his wife were unaware of the deportation order and a request for asylum that was filed on her behalf.

In a statement last week, Mr. Thompson said his wife had been the victim of an unscrupulous “notario,” a person who typically helps immigrants file paperwork for citizenship but does not have any special legal expertise. The notario filed a request for asylum for Ms. Thompson without her knowledge, he said.

Because all correspondence about her case was sent to the notario, Mr. Thompson said, Ms. Thompson missed a crucial court hearing in February 2005.

Soon after, an immigration judge issued a deportation order and closed her case.
Mr. Thompson said he and his wife thought she was in the United States legally on a student visa.

At the hearing, Terry C. Bird, the district counsel for the immigration agency, told the judge that he would not oppose Ms. Thompson’s motion to reopen her case.

“Legally, it’s as if she never missed that amnesty hearing,” Mr. Thompson said.
The judge allowed Ms. Thompson to return home pending another hearing.

An immigrant in this country who marries a United States citizen may apply for an adjustment of status, commonly called a green card, but approval is not automatic and processing a spousal petition can take months. In the meantime, Mr. Kuck said, the deportation order against Ms. Thompson trumped everything.

Mr. Thompson, who represents the most ethnically diverse district in Georgia, said he was used to hearing about his constituents’ immigration problems but was caught flat-footed when he became involved in a similar legal battle.

“It does make it more vivid,” he said, “living it, as opposed to just having it around you.”

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Baker Commission Report

Here is the the Baker Commission Report, in case you have trouble with Adobe:

T h e I r a q
Study Group

James A. Baker, III, and
Lee H. Hamilton, Co-Chairs
Lawrence S. Eagleburger,
Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Edwin Meese III,
Sandra Day O’Connor, Leon E. Panetta,
William J. Perry, Charles S. Robb,
Alan K. Simpson
vintage books
A Division of Random House, Inc.
New York
All rights reserved.
The Authorized Edition of The Iraq Study Group Report is published in the
United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York,
and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.
Maps © 2006 by Joyce Pendola
Vintage and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
ISBN: 0-307-38656-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-307-38656-4

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First Edition

Letter from the Co-Chairs

There is no magic formula to solve the problems of Iraq. However,
there are actions that can be taken to improve the situation
and protect American interests.

Many Americans are dissatisfied, not just with the situation
in Iraq but with the state of our political debate regarding
Iraq. Our political leaders must build a bipartisan approach to
bring a responsible conclusion to what is now a lengthy and
costly war. Our country deserves a debate that prizes substance
over rhetoric, and a policy that is adequately funded and sustainable.
The President and Congress must work together. Our
leaders must be candid and forthright with the American people
in order to win their support.

No one can guarantee that any course of action in Iraq at
this point will stop sectarian warfare, growing violence, or a
slide toward chaos. If current trends continue, the potential
consequences are severe. Because of the role and responsibility
of the United States in Iraq, and the commitments our government
has made, the United States has special obligations.
Our country must address as best it can Iraq’s many problems.

The United States has long-term relationships and interests at
stake in the Middle East, and needs to stay engaged.
In this consensus report, the ten members of the Iraq
Study Group present a new approach because we believe there
is a better way forward. All options have not been exhausted.
We believe it is still possible to pursue different policies that
can give Iraq an opportunity for a better future, combat terrorism,
stabilize a critical region of the world, and protect America’s
credibility, interests, and values. Our report makes it clear
that the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people also must act to
achieve a stable and hopeful future.

What we recommend in this report demands a tremendous
amount of political will and cooperation by the executive
and legislative branches of the U.S. government. It
demands skillful implementation. It demands unity of effort by
government agencies. And its success depends on the unity of
the American people in a time of political polarization. Americans
can and must enjoy the right of robust debate within a
democracy. Yet U.S. foreign policy is doomed to failure—as is
any course of action in Iraq—if it is not supported by a broad,
sustained consensus. The aim of our report is to move our
country toward such a consensus.

We want to thank all those we have interviewed and those who
have contributed information and assisted the Study Group,
both inside and outside the U.S. government, in Iraq, and
around the world. We thank the members of the expert working
groups, and staff from the sponsoring organizations. We especially
thank our colleagues on the Study Group, who have
worked with us on these difficult issues in a spirit of generosity
and bipartisanship.


L e t t e r f r o m t h e C o - C h a i r s

In presenting our report to the President, Congress, and
the American people, we dedicate it to the men and women—
military and civilian—who have served and are serving in Iraq,
and to their families back home. They have demonstrated extraordinary
courage and made difficult sacrifices. Every American
is indebted to them.

We also honor the many Iraqis who have sacrificed on behalf
of their country, and the members of the Coalition Forces
who have stood with us and with the people of Iraq.
James A. Baker, III Lee H. Hamilton


L e t t e r f r o m t h e C o - C h a i r s

Executive Summary

The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. There is no
path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved.
In this report, we make a number of recommendations
for actions to be taken in Iraq, the United States, and the region.
Our most important recommendations call for new and
enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq and the region,
and a change in the primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq
that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat
forces out of Iraq responsibly. We believe that these two recommendations
are equally important and reinforce one another.

If they are effectively implemented, and if the Iraqi government
moves forward with national reconciliation, Iraqis will have an
opportunity for a better future, terrorism will be dealt a blow,
stability will be enhanced in an important part of the world, and
America’s credibility, interests, and values will be protected.
The challenges in Iraq are complex. Violence is increasing
in scope and lethality. It is fed by a Sunni Arab insurgency, Shiite
militias and death squads, al Qaeda, and widespread criminality.
Sectarian conflict is the principal challenge to stability.


The Iraqi people have a democratically elected government, yet
it is not adequately advancing national reconciliation, providing
basic security, or delivering essential services. Pessimism is pervasive.
If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences
could be severe. A slide toward chaos could trigger the collapse
of Iraq’s government and a humanitarian catastrophe. Neighboring
countries could intervene. Sunni-Shia clashes could
spread. Al Qaeda could win a propaganda victory and expand
its base of operations. The global standing of the United States
could be diminished. Americans could become more polarized.
During the past nine months we have considered a full
range of approaches for moving forward. All have flaws. Our
recommended course has shortcomings, but we firmly believe
that it includes the best strategies and tactics to positively influence
the outcome in Iraq and the region.

External Approach

The policies and actions of Iraq’s neighbors greatly affect its
stability and prosperity. No country in the region will benefit in
the long term from a chaotic Iraq. Yet Iraq’s neighbors are not
doing enough to help Iraq achieve stability. Some are undercutting

The United States should immediately launch a new
diplomatic offensive to build an international consensus for stability
in Iraq and the region. This diplomatic effort should include
every country that has an interest in avoiding a chaotic
Iraq, including all of Iraq’s neighbors. Iraq’s neighbors and key
states in and outside the region should form a support group to
reinforce security and national reconciliation within Iraq, neither
of which Iraq can achieve on its own.


Executive Summary

Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events
within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the
United States should try to engage them constructively. In
seeking to influence the behavior of both countries, the United
States has disincentives and incentives available. Iran should
stem the flow of arms and training to Iraq, respect Iraq’s sovereignty
and territorial integrity, and use its influence over Iraqi
Shia groups to encourage national reconciliation. The issue of
Iran’s nuclear programs should continue to be dealt with by the
five permanent members of the United Nations Security
Council plus Germany. Syria should control its border with
Iraq to stem the flow of funding, insurgents, and terrorists in
and out of Iraq.

The United States cannot achieve its goals in the Middle
East unless it deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict and
regional instability. There must be a renewed and sustained
commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-
Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon, Syria, and President Bush’s
June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and
Palestine. This commitment must include direct talks with, by,
and between Israel, Lebanon, Palestinians (those who accept
Israel’s right to exist), and Syria.

As the United States develops its approach toward Iraq
and the Middle East, the United States should provide additional
political, economic, and military support for Afghanistan,
including resources that might become available as combat
forces are moved out of Iraq.

Internal Approach

The most important questions about Iraq’s future are now the
responsibility of Iraqis. The United States must adjust its role


Executive Summary

in Iraq to encourage the Iraqi people to take control of their
own destiny.
The Iraqi government should accelerate assuming responsibility
for Iraqi security by increasing the number and
quality of Iraqi Army brigades. While this process is under way,
and to facilitate it, the United States should significantly increase
the number of U.S. military personnel, including combat
troops, imbedded in and supporting Iraqi Army units. As
these actions proceed, U.S. combat forces could begin to move
out of Iraq.

The primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq should evolve
to one of supporting the Iraqi army, which would take over primary
responsibility for combat operations. By the first quarter
of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security
situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for
force protection could be out of Iraq. At that time, U.S. combat
forces in Iraq could be deployed only in units embedded with
Iraqi forces, in rapid-reaction and special operations teams,
and in training, equipping, advising, force protection, and
search and rescue. Intelligence and support efforts would continue.
A vital mission of those rapid reaction and special operations
forces would be to undertake strikes against al Qaeda in

It is clear that the Iraqi government will need assistance
from the United States for some time to come, especially in
carrying out security responsibilities. Yet the United States
must make it clear to the Iraqi government that the United
States could carry out its plans, including planned redeployments,
even if the Iraqi government did not implement their
planned changes. The United States must not make an openended
commitment to keep large numbers of American troops
deployed in Iraq.


Executive Summary

As redeployment proceeds, military leaders should emphasize
training and education of forces that have returned to
the United States in order to restore the force to full combat
capability. As equipment returns to the United States, Congress
should appropriate sufficient funds to restore the equipment
over the next five years.

The United States should work closely with Iraq’s leaders
to support the achievement of specific objectives—or milestones—
on national reconciliation, security, and governance.
Miracles cannot be expected, but the people of Iraq have the
right to expect action and progress. The Iraqi government
needs to show its own citizens—and the citizens of the United
States and other countries—that it deserves continued support.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in consultation with the
United States, has put forward a set of milestones critical for
Iraq. His list is a good start, but it must be expanded to include
milestones that can strengthen the government and benefit the
Iraqi people. President Bush and his national security team
should remain in close and frequent contact with the Iraqi
leadership to convey a clear message: there must be prompt action
by the Iraqi government to make substantial progress toward
the achievement of these milestones.

If the Iraqi government demonstrates political will and
makes substantial progress toward the achievement of milestones
on national reconciliation, security, and governance, the
United States should make clear its willingness to continue
training, assistance, and support for Iraq’s security forces and to
continue political, military, and economic support. If the Iraqi
government does not make substantial progress toward the
achievement of milestones on national reconciliation, security,
and governance, the United States should reduce its political,
military, or economic support for the Iraqi government.


Executive Summary

Our report makes recommendations in several other areas.
They include improvements to the Iraqi criminal justice system,
the Iraqi oil sector, the U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq,
the U.S. budget process, the training of U.S. government personnel,
and U.S. intelligence capabilities.


It is the unanimous view of the Iraq Study Group that these
recommendations offer a new way forward for the United
States in Iraq and the region. They are comprehensive and
need to be implemented in a coordinated fashion. They should
not be separated or carried out in isolation. The dynamics of
the region are as important to Iraq as events within Iraq.
The challenges are daunting. There will be difficult days
ahead. But by pursuing this new way forward, Iraq, the region,
and the United States of America can emerge stronger.

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