An Immigration Scheme for Iraq

The Problem

          [N.B. Please do not undertake outside or additional research on the country of Iraq, or the makeup of the number of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds listed in this problem.  Accept all facts in the problem herein as true and dispositive for purposes of this exercise.]    

    Assume for the purposes of this paper that it is now the month of July in the year 2013. Assume further that the country of Iraq was invaded by the military of the United States, Britain and other coalition forces in the spring of 2003.  The former government of Iraq was toppled and the former dictator Saddam Hussein was deposed, arrested, tried for crimes against humanity and later hanged.

             On June 30, 2012, Coalition forces, led by the United States, returned sovereignty to a new Iraqi government that had instituted free elections, wrote a constitution and set up a government with a parliament, a prime minister, and a court system. In the winter of 2013 the country was partitioned into three parts with Kurds in charge of the northern sector of the country, Sunnis in charge of the western part of the country, and Shiites in charge of the southern sector of the country.  Bagdad, the capital city, was divided into three similar districts controlled respectively by Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites. This partition was brokered in a peace deal negotiated by Secretary of State Jeb Bush.  So far the partition has worked and the country of Iraq is at peace.

             The new government is now known as the Islamic Republic of Iraq.  The country has a population of 29 million people. Shiite Muslims who make up approximately 60 percent of the population of the country hold a majority of 200 seats in the new parliament and the current Prime Minister is a Shiite cleric, Ali Al-Husseini Al-Sistani.  Sunni Muslims make up approximately 20 percent of the population and hold a minority of 60 seats in the parliament.  Kurds, who adhere to the Islamic faith, but are not Arabs, as are Shiites and Sunnis, make up 12 percent of the population.  They hold only 30 out of 300 seats in the parliament.  The remainder of the population is comprised of Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and a few other diverse faiths.  This group holds 10 seats in the parliament.

             Despite the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam, Iraq suffered almost two years of violence as Al Qaeda “foreign fighters” and members of the former Baath party attempted, through violence, to destabilize the new emerging democratic government.  In the spring of 2007 the remaining Baath loyalists were caught and jailed.  Al Qaeda’s presence lessened as money for its activities dried up around the world.

            Now in July 2013, Iraq is at peace and the country has good relations with the United States since all of our troops have pulled out of the country.  Iraq appears to be on its way to becoming one of the most stable democracies in the Middle East. 

           In January of 2010, Iraq was blessed with more good fortune when geologists from China discovered that there were large deposits of oil in the western region of Iraq that had never been explored.  With the discovery of these new oil deposits it is estimated that Iraq now has the largest supply of oil in the world, a supply twice the size of that found in Saudi Arabia.  The new government wishes to exploit this find and has welcomed foreign investment.

          Each day, since the January 2010, oil discovery, planes have landed at the International Airport in the capital city of Baghdad carrying new arrivals from Syria, China, Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Russia, France, Germany, South America, and all parts of the Muslim world.  Many of these people believe that they will be able to cash in on the oil boom in some way and others wish to be part of a new Islamic democracy.  Some of these visitors wish to make their new permanent homes in the country in an effort to make their fortunes. Others wish to be part of a country that espouses and practices a democratic form of Islam.

            The problem for those who wish to visit and remain in Iraq is the fact that, since the toppling of the old regime, Iraq has never developed a comprehensive system of immigration laws.  Since the invasion to topple Saddam in early 2003, Iraq has had more or less an open door policy with very porous borders.  The country was first overrun by so called “foreign fighters” who wished to wage “Jihad” on the American military forces.  Now that most of these “foreign fighters” have been killed or arrested, the country is becoming overrun by many different people who want to set up businesses in the country or work for oil companies.  As a result, the Islamic Republic has decided that they had better formulate a comprehensive immigration system.

             The new Iraqi Constitution clearly provides “that any person born on Iraqi soil of at least one native-born Iraqi parent has a right to Iraqi citizenship.” However, the laws of the country contain no concept of what we call “legal permanent residency.”  They, also, have no concept of the “Immediate Relative.”  Prime Minister Al-Sistani and his experts believe that Iraq could well absorb, as citizens or permanent residents, an additional population of 20 million people over the next ten years.

     –    Your Task

            As a result of your outstanding work in the Immigration and Nationality course at the Barry University School of Law, after graduation you were asked to work with the United Nations in solving world immigration problems.  Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the U.N., has just handed you your travel orders to Baghdad as the head of a U.N. team of experts that will develop an immigration system and a set of immigration and nationality laws for the Islamic Republic of Iraq.  The new law must be ratified by a majority of the Iraqi Parliament.

            You will leave a week from today, fly to Paris where you will board a special Iraqi Airways government jet which will then fly you onto Baghdad.

            However, the Secretary General has asked that you provide him with an initial, suggested blueprint of your immigration statute for the country of Iraq before you leave!

         Your blueprint of the statute must be typed and on his desk by 10 a.m. Monday morning. The Secretary General expects your statute blueprint to include reference to the following specific topics and country considerations:

 1.         The blueprint must not be an exact replica of the INA of the United States.  That would be too costly and complicated for a new democracy like Iraq.  However, many Iraqis believe that the only people who should be allowed to work in their country be either citizens or permanent residents.  Do you agree or disagree?  Provide your policy arguments in your footnotes to this section.

 2.         Of special interest to the Iraqis is the fact that there are over 1,000 Muslim “foreign fighters” in Iraqi jails.  These people slipped over the border into Iraq mainly from Syria between 2003 and 2007, to wage Jihad against the Americans.  Many of them are from Syria but most are from Yemen, Sudan and Saudi Arabia.  Iraq must decide whether they should be given some type of “due process” hearing before sending them back to their own countries.  The United States government has offered to take all 1,000 of the foreign fighters and jail them in Guantanamo Bay until “the war on terrorism” is won.  What do you propose from an immigration law perspective?  Devote a section of your statute to describing what “process” such foreign fighters might be “due.”

Also, please address how your new law will handle those Iraqi citizens who are in custody because they are loyal to the now outlawed Baath Party.  Should these people be allowed to stay in the country?  May they retain their Iraqi citizenship?

3.         The blueprint must take into consideration that the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iraq is adamant about limiting the number of non-Muslims who can become Iraqi citizens.  Many of those in the Parliament believe that citizenship of Shiites must out number that of Sunnis.  This is because throughout the Saddam era the majority Shiites were suppressed by the Sunni minority.  What is your statutory solution?

 4          As a result of the number of foreigners who have already traveled to the country, Secretary Moon suggests that you think in terms of an immigrant visa system that would allow immigration on a quota system based on religion or an auction system based on expertise or capital putative immigrants might bring to the country.  Choose one or the other, or a combination of both and describe what criteria you suggest for preference in either the quota or auction system.  Also include in your statute information on which branch or branches of the Iraqi government would oversee your immigration scheme?

5.         What qualitative or numerical limitations should be placed on the number of people – Muslim and non-Muslim — who can immigrate to Iraq each year?  Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has told you privately that he doubts more than 200 thousand people each year would really want to immigrate to Iraq.  Also, be apprised that outside of the cities of Baghdad, Basra, Kirkuk and Mosul the infrastructure of the country is frail, i.e., poor highways, bandits, poor towns, poor electricity and poor telephone service, etc.

 6.         The Secretary General, also, suggests that you set up a nonimmigrant visa system, with no more than five NIV categories, for those who might want to visit Iraq for business or pleasure.  What categories will you choose and why?  Will your system allow any non-immigrants to work in the oil industry?  What about other professionals?  What would be the requirements?

 7.         On what grounds would certain aliens be inadmissible for entry into Iraq?  On what grounds would your system accommodate the deportation or removal of certain aliens?  Again, should there be some form of “due process?”

8.         If you set up a system of legal permanent residency will these permanent residents be allowed to become citizens of Iraq? What policy considerations will determine your course?  What will be the new requirements for citizenship at birth or for naturalization?  Will a religious quota be involved?


9.         The Islamic Republic of Iraq is a member of the United Nations and as such should have, as part of their immigration law, a well-defined refugee and/or asylum policy.  What will your advice on this subject be?  Traditionally, few people sought refugee status in Iraq.

 10.       What will be the underlying rationale of this immigration law (e.g. “Family Unity,” “Cheap Labor,” “Exploitation of Oil Reserves,” etc.)?  Also, what will you name the law?  Why?  Give policy reasons for the name.

          You may organize your blueprint statute any way you choose, however, you must be coherent and logical for the Secretary General and address the ten areas listed above.  He has seen many immigration systems during his time with the United Nations and will expect your system to be supported by the case facts outlined above, sound theory, and policy considerations relevant to Iraq. 

          You may rely heavily on your American law experience, your knowledge of the concepts of the INA, and what you read and learned in your Barry Immigration Law course, but you may not adopt the INA, wholesale, as your model for Iraq.  


T H I N K!

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