Target: John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State
Goal: Accelerate and extend visa program for foreign translators that aided U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan
While fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. troops have enlisted the help of invaluable foreign translators in order to communicate with locals countless times. These translators have put themselves in harm’s way on battlefields and in firefights, all in order to save U.S. lives and help their countries. Translators have not only faced danger on battlefields; many have been threatened and had family members killed or abducted since their service began. The U.S. has shockingly done almost nothing to help them.
Special programs have been set up by the State Department that allow these heroes to immigrate to safety to the U.S. but the actual number of visas that have been issued under them is paltry; for example, a mere three were issued to Afghan translators in 2011. While a commendable idea, these programs are a bureaucratic nightmare composed of 14 steps that can take years to navigate and often result in applicants being denied. These translators do not have years to wait while their families are killed. They deserve to be transported to safety and commended for their services as soon as humanly possible.
On top of this, the door is closing on those currently attempting to navigate the process, as the programs cease at the end of 2014. The State Department has expressed a willingness to continue the programs, but requires congressional approval to do so.
This is unacceptable. These programs must be streamlined and extended, not only to show our respect and gratitude for translators who have saved countless lives, but so that people will be willing to work with the U.S. in the future. Please sign below to show the State Department and John Kerry that we stand with these brave people.
Dear Secretary of State Kerry,
During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, countless translators have rendered their services to U.S. forces and the U.S. government itself. These people have faced the same dangers that our troops have faced time and time again to save lives and aid their countries. The dangers that they face do not stop when they leave the battlefield, however. As you well know, working with the U.S. military and government makes these translators targets for insurgents and the U.S. State Department is not doing enough to protect them.
The programs that have been put in place to issue Special Immigrant Visas to translators are not sufficient to reward these people for their services and they are certainly not enough to protect them and their families from the threats that they face for helping us. The process is overly convoluted and in need of immediate revision.
I demand that you take steps to streamline the visa application process in order to ensure that these translators are justly rewarded and protected. I also ask that you not just remain open to the extension of the programs, but bring them to the attention of Congress in order to obtain the necessary approval. Please act before any more translators or their families are killed waiting for the slow wheels of bureaucracy to determine their futures.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Varolay via Wikimedia Commons