US Hangs Iraqi Translators Out to Dry
With visa process slowed, many now fear for their lives
By Kevin Spak,  Newser User
Posted Dec 27, 2011 2:12 PM CST
In this Monday, Aug. 29, 2011 photo, a U.S. Army captain and a translator talk with an Iraqi Army soldier while delivering toys and water to residents in the village of Bani Hashem, Iraq.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Santana)

(Newser) – When the US signed up translators in Iraq, it promised them an inside track for a special visa to the US. But now that the war is over, the visa approval process has slowed to a crawl, leaving translators stuck in Iraq—where many want them dead for helping the Americans, the LA Times reports. “I served the Americans very well, but now they’ve left me on my own, with no security,” says one ex-translator.

The Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2008 was supposed to provide some 20,000 “special immigrant visas” to Iraqis who had worked for the US. But so far only 3,415 have been issued, and the process has only gotten slower in the wake of the May arrests of two refugees on terrorism charges. The State Department says enhanced screening procedures put in place since have contributed to delays, but promises upcoming changes “at the very highest levels” to speed things up.