It was a good day for those who had served as Iraqi translators/interpreters, although it passed largely unnoticed. The day was October 4, 2013. That was the day President Obama signed an extension of the special immigrant visa program for them. It extended the program until the end of 2013. The Act provided for what were called “Special Immigrant Visas.” They were for Iraqi nationals who had served as translators or interpreters for or on behalf of the United States government. When Congress initiated the fast-track immigrant visa program in 2008 in order to permit translators and interpreters to enter the U.S., the visa applications were supposed to be turned around within 9 months. It has not turned out that way.
According to Katherine Reisner of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, as of March 15, 2015, more than 1,800 Iraqis’ applications remain in limbo and many of these have been waiting 5 ½ years. Captain Doug Vossen who served two tours in Iraq said his translator, who is awaiting a visa, served as his protector and adviser, but now that the promised visa has not appeared, he is in hiding in Iraq with his family fearing for his life. “He was there, risking his life when the United States Government came calling. And now, when he is at the end of his rope, completely desperate for him and his family, we’re not returning the favor? Just not right.”
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