This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

We Can Expect More Iraqi Chaldean Refugees in the US

For the first three years after the passage of the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act (2008-2010), there were more refugees from Iraq arriving in the US than from any other country. Since then, Burma and Bhutan have generated more refugees into the US than Iraq, but that may be about to change as a result of the ISIS offensive in Iraq. Letta Taylor, writing for CNN, reminds us that as one the numerically smallest minority groups in Iraq, the Chaldean Christian population is being seriously squeezed. 
"The country will be divided, it is clear,” Sako [Chaldean patriarch Louis Sako, the leader of Iraqi Christians] said, referring to proposals to carve up Iraq into three separate political entities for Sunni, Shia, and Kurds. “Where does that leave the Christians?"
The answer seems to be that "leaving" is the option that most Christians are taking. Foreign Policy notes that:
In 2003, it was estimated that some 1.5 million Iraqis were Christians, about 5 percent of the population. Since then, the overwhelming majority has reacted to widening sectarian conflict and a series of terrorist attacks by leaving the country.
Emil Shimoun Nona, the archbishop of the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, has told news agencies that the few Christians remaining in the city prior to the ISIS invasion have abandoned the city. Since the Americans invaded Iraq in 2003, he estimates, Mosul's Christian population dwindled from 35,000 to some 3,000. "Now there is no one left," he said. Most of them have joined the estimated 500,000 refugees who have fled the ISIS advance; many of the Christians, including the archbishop, have opted for the relative security of Iraqi Kurdistan.
For their sake, we can hope that most of them will find refuge and safety in Kurdistan, but this renewed violence will almost certainly increase the number of refugee applications to the US among Iraqi Christians, who already comprise more than 40 percent of all Iraqi-origin people currently living in the US. A disproportionate share of them will almost certainly follow the previous arrivals to Michigan and California.

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