The US government has betrayed the Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who helped its troops in these two countries by failing to give them visas they were once promised.
Under a program called Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Iraqi and Afghan, the interpreters and translators were promised that if they give one year of faithful and valuable service to the US military, they and their immediate families would be given special visas that could easily land them in the United States. The US government actually used the SIVs to entice Afghans and Iraqis to cooperate with American and British troops.
The SIVs program for Iraqis was passed in 2008 and set a maximum of 25,000 visas, but a mere 20% have been given out thus far, according to a report by the British newspaper, The Guardian.
The SIVs program for Iraqis was passed in 2008 and set a maximum of 25,000 visas. But according to a report by the British newspaper The Guardian only about 20% of the visas authorized under the program have been given out so far.
“A similar visa program for Afghans who aided troops was enacted in 2009 and offered up to 8,500 visas. Keep in mind that the infamous ‘surge’ had not yet taken place then, thus Congress didn't think many visas were needed. To date, only 12% of the special afghan visas have been given out,” Guardian reports.
But the promised special visa programs seem to be crashing down. The US visa program for Iraqis will expire on Monday September 30 unless Congress renews it. But that looks highly unlikely as Republicans and Democrats in Congress stay deadlocked on a budget bill. “That means that many Iraqi interpreters who thought they were virtually promised a visa now find themselves about to be cut adrift. The same fate likely awaits the Afghan program next year,” according to the Guardian.
Now thousands of these interpreters and translators who risked their lives working for the US and UK military feel they are left deserted.
Reuters report that “If it is not extended, application processing would halt for an estimated 2,000 former interpreters and other Iraqi civilians in the visa pipeline, leaving them stranded in their homeland, where their lives may be at risk because of their work for American troops.”