So, how does the United States reward those who help its military? The Congressional program offering visas for Afghan interpreters is putting stated good will to the test.
Afghan interpreters have been critical to the US operations in Afghanistan. Since 2007 they have helped US military personnel navigate a challenging country. At the same time, aiding the US has put the Afghan interpreters in a difficult position. In many cases, it left them fearing for their lives – against deadly retributions by the Taliban and others.
The United States has offered residency visas to aid those who helped get them out of danger. The only problem is that the number of visas available is woefully insufficient and the process drags on. (It used to take years, but recently the processing time was shortened to nine months.) The result is that many Afghan interpreters are left behind and in permanent danger. It has been estimated that every 36 hours an Afghan is killed because of his or her association with the United States military.
12,000 Afghan interpreters who helped US troops have applied for a visa under the special Congressional program. However, the number of visas to be given out is currently capped at 4,000. This leaves many interpreters in Afghanistan, as well as their families, unprotected.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated occurrence. A number of interpreters and translators in other war situations, and even in some cases right at home, are in danger because of their work. But what dangers are they facing and what can be done? To find out more about the issue, check out Red T. They are a non-profit who aims to protect translators and interpreters who are at risk because of their work. (They also have an interesting field guide for translators and interpreters posted on their website in 12 languages.)