The United States Congress has voted to impose a virtual death sentence on Afghan and Iraqi translators and support personnel who offered services to the U.S. military and contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq.
On Wednesday, the Senate approved the $717 billion National Defense Authorization Act but refused to include any provisions for the Special Immigrant Visa program that brings Afghan and Iraqi translators and support personnel to the U.S. after years of faithful and honorable service.
Since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, brave Afghan and Iraqi men and women have served and supported our troops. They have served our country and saved American lives at great risk not only to their own lives, but the lives of their spouses, children, relatives, and friends.
Matt Zeller, President of No One Left Behind said, “Many of our wartime allies have lost their lives in fighting against these terrorists. Every single Secretary of Defense, since the beginning of the wars, have supported the SIV program, noting that these individuals were ‘mission-critical’ and literally saved the lives of untold numbers of American servicemen and women.”
“We at No One Left Behind are deeply disappointed that the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act was passed with ZERO new Special Immigrant Visas approved. Doing so represents a blatant betrayal and a violation of our own promises to them. It also significantly increases the present and future risk of our own citizens in the armed forces,” Zeller said.
Zeller also noted a report from the United Nations that found an interpreter is killed ever 36 hours. “We have honorable men and women, who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us being tortured and killed for their service to our mission. We owe them.”
“We are calling upon Americans, including the hundreds of thousands of veterans of these two wars, to demand from this Congress and administration that they make it a national priority to rectify this grievous mistake.”