Would the United States knowingly leave its soldiers behind to die? Probably not. But right now the US is about to knowingly leave its Afghan interpreters behind.
During the war in Afghanistan, thousands of local Afghans served as interpreters for American forces. They helped US soldiers communicate with other Afghan locals so the soldiers could carry out their duties and stay safer in a foreign land.
The problem is that for the last few years the Taliban have been retaliating against these interpreters (and their families) who helped the US; the Taliban has been hunting them down and killing them. Many former interpreters are rightfully scared for their lives – scared to leave their homes or to be in public.
When US soldiers return home, they return to safety on American soil, but these former Afghan interpreters have nowhere to go. That’s why the US created a Special Immigrant Visa program with the idea of not leaving their interpreter colleagues behind and in danger. The program allows specially screened former Afghan interpreters who served the US for more than two years to seek refuge in the US. It’s certainly not easy to obtain one of these visas, but even worse is the fact that Congress is trying to discontinue the program, leaving many former Afghan interpreters in harm’s way and without a way out.
What does it say about the United States if we allow this to happen and abandon our former Afghan interpreters to retaliatory attacks from the Taliban? Is this the message we want to share with the world about how we take care of our allies?
I urge you to contact your representative right now. Tell him or her that you want the Special Immigrant Visa program to be extended. You want former Afghan interpreters to be safe.
I also encourage you to join us at Red T. Why? Red T is a nonprofit dedicated to the safety of translators and interpreters in war zones and in other dangerous situations.
Doing the work of a translator or an interpreter shouldn’t be paid with your life.