US Hangs Iraqi Translators Out to Dry

With visa process slowed, many now fear for their lives

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 27, 2011 2:12 PM CST

(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.

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.
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)
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They've expelled us all from the only places in Iraq that were safe for us — US bases. - Tariq, a former Iraqi interpreter
for the US military

If they want to come to the US, we should do all we can to help them. They make our country all that much better. They bring a richness, a diversity, and their patriotism is just incredible. - Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, top spokesman for US forces in Iraq

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