News: The New York Times Article “Officers Battle Visa Hurdles for Iraq Aides”

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The New York Times has an excellent article about the daunting visa process for Iraqi interpreters and the US veterans and soldiers that help them. It is worth reading in full and quoting at length:

The process, complicated for anyone, is especially hard for interpreters.

They are considered refugees, and refugees cannot apply from their native countries, in this case Iraq. But Jordan and Syria have closed their borders to the flood ofIraqi refugees. Passports issued by the government of Saddam Hussein are not valid, often making it impossible to cross borders legally.

Lt. Col. Steven Miska, an Army infantry officer, has had more than 50 interpreters work for him during his years in Iraq. After looking into the visa process, he decided that “no Iraqi would ever figure that thing out,” and set his staff members to establish a network. They pair Iraqis with American veterans who help shepherd them out of Iraq, through Jordan and Syria and into the United States.

He was particularly frustrated by the requirement that interpreters produce a letter from a general on their behalf. This, he said, was like a junior associate at a Fortune 500 company asking the chief executive for a letter of recommendation.

The article also mentions The Checkpoint One Foundation, an organization started by a national guardsman working with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense by the name of Jason Faler. The organization advocates for Iraqi interpreters and has resettle two Iraqi families and one from Afghanistan. Go to their website for more information.


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