Lake Havasu City, AZ – Imagine the feeling of disappointment and fear when the United States government falls short on its promise of freedom and protection from dangerous terrorist groups after you served one year with the U.S. military protecting and defending U.S. troops overseas. This is exactly what many Iraqi and Afghan interpreters are feeling right now as thousands wait for a promised passage to America. Under the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, thousands of Afghan and Iraqi interpreters were promised that if they gave the United States military one year of faithful and valuable service, they and their immediate families would receive Special Immigrant Visas to come to the United States, yet some say they have been waiting for years with no word from the U.S. State Department on when or if their visa application will be approved. “These interpreters put their lives on the line for our country and our government is leaving them behind,” Supervisor Buster Johnson stated. The Afghan Allies Protection Act was passed in 2009. The act created a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for Afghan and Iraqis employed by the U.S. government, the majority as military interpreters. According to a report by the Washington Post in 2012, between fiscal year 2008 and fiscal year 2012, only 5,500 visas were issued out of a potential 25,000 to Iraqis, and 1,051 visas out of 8,500 potential to Afghans. The Post also reported over 5,000 Afghan SIV applications was being backlogged. After the report was released, several U.S. military personnel took to social media to fight for the interpreters who saved their lives. In response, the federal government finally started rapidly approving applications and by September of this year another 3000 visas were issued, but several thousand still wait approval from the State Department. “Our federal government seems more concerned with approving visas for illegal immigrants than for those who helped protect and defend our country,” Johnson stated. With American combat troops anticipated to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of this year, many interpreters who have been protected by American troops will fear for their lives if their visas are not approved. “These translators helped defend and protect our troops overseas and now they are being shot at, receiving death threats and living in constant fear of reprisal by the terrorist organizations,” Johnson explained. “Unlike the illegal immigrants, these individuals have given their time and dedication to our country. They deserve our protection,” Johnson ended.
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- November 22, 2017 Newscast | Cronkite News