The United States entered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over a decade ago. Fighting against terrorism in the name of freedom, American soldiers were almost immediately faced with the tremendous challenges of understanding foreign languages and cultures. The measure of success that American troops have had in Iraq and Afghanistan would undoubtedly not have been possible without the diligent work by local translators, who not only helped U.S. troops understand the languages of Iraq and Afghanistan, but also understand the cultures of the countries. Many of these interpreters were promised to be allowed to immigrate to the United States, only to see their paperwork get bogged down in bureaucratic red tape. In part due to the hard work of immigration attorney looking to see the processes changes, the State Department is acknowledging the delays, and saying that the process is improving.
In an open letter to the press Patrick F. Kennedy, currently an official in the U.S. State Department, thanked the foreign interpreters for their service and pledged the Obama administration’s support for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program which allows those who have helped the troops to petition for a visa. In the letter he credited the president for signing legislation last month which would continue the Iraqi SIV program until the end of 2013, and signaled that the administration’s desire is to extend the programs even further.
Kennedy also wrote of the success of the current SIV programs, which he says has seen 1,600 Afghans and their family members reach the U.S. following an improvement to the program last year. During the same period Iraqi collaborators and their family members received about 3,600 visas, raising the total number of visas to Iraqis to 15,000 since 2007.
Echoing the concerns of many Americans Kennedy cited the government’s need ” to the American people to ensure that special visa recipients….do not pose a threat.” Presumably this process of verification has been responsible for several high-profile delays in the visa process which have been in the news lately, some of which resulting in the deaths of the visa petitioners before they could make it out of their home countries.
Kennedy concluded his letter by stating that the State Department has the highest respect for those who have risked their lives to help America in its pursuits overseas. This open letter is not only timely, but is also telling. America’s visa process, and immigration system in general, can be convoluted and difficult. As can be seen by the need for such an open letter written by a high ranking State Department official, more needs to be done to fix the country’s broken immigration system, but not just for foreign collaborators from Iraq and Afghanistan.
There are many ordinary people who wish to legally immigrate to the United States, and millions more who simply wish to visit. If you need assistance in securing a visa to visit or live in the United States, contact Austin based Lyttle Law Firm for a consultation at (512) 215-5225.