Two months ago, I wrote a post called “Break the logjam on visas for foreign interpreters who served our military during war.” I noted:
Congress has authorized 1,500 visas per year for Afghans who have assisted us, but the State Department annually approves only about 200. In the past five years, State has issued only 12 percent of the available visas. The picture is similar with respect to Iraq.
Now it appears that the problem isn’t just a “logjam,” but also the affirmative unwillingness of State Department bureaucrats to recognize the danger faced by Afghan interpreters who have served the U.S. In other words, bureaucratic incompetence and inertia have been compounded by sheer lack of honor on the part of the Obama administration.
According to the Washington Post:
A growing number of Afghan interpreters who worked alongside American troops are being denied U.S. visas allotted by Congress because the State Department says there is no serious threat against their lives.
The Taliban poses no serious threat to the lives of Afghans who worked side-by-side with the American military? What fantasy world does the State Department live in?
That’s an easy question. It lives in Obama fantasy land — the world in which blood thirsty enemies like the Taliban are reliable peace partners; in which national weakness goes unpunished, and in which selling one’s friends down the river is a sign of sophistication, not a mark of dishonor.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, there is this:
A former U.S. Marine interpreter named Mustafa was kidnapped and killed outside Kabul in August. His colleagues said he had completed his visa interview several days before his death.
“These are people being hunted down by Taliban forces because of their work with the United States,” [said Becca Heller, director of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, which represents Iraqi and Afghan clients]. “Many of them have been shot at or kidnapped, and others have hard evidence in the form of death letters and death lists from the Taliban.”
“What’s a serious ongoing threat for them? Do they need someone to bring in my decapitated head?” said another interpreter, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity for security reasons. “The Taliban posted a letter on our house saying next time I come inside my house, they will kill my whole family. That’s still not good enough?”
President Obama is doing everything he can to confer U.S. citizenship on millions of people who willfully violated U.S. immigration law for years. If Obama has his way, these people will become lawful U.S. residents without making any showing of hardship; the fact that they broke the law will be sufficient to establish eligibility.
But when it comes to granting visas for those who risked their lives by providing critical assistance to our military, the obvious threat of death that inheres in having helped America in a soon-to-be-abandoned war against murderous fanatics isn’t good enough.
Even Democrats are appalled:
“I am deeply concerned about recent reports that the threat posed to interpreters by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan is being downplayed or disregarded,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), a veteran of the Afghan war, when asked for reaction. “The current process for approving visas threatens to undermine the commitment we made to stand with them.”
“We have to keep our promise to individuals who risked their lives serving alongside our troops,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), a member of the Armed Services Committee. “Failing to act puts lives at further risk and hurts our credibility around the globe.”
But talk is cheap. The Obama administration officials responsible for this stain on American honor need to be hauled before Congress and grilled. And that includes the head of the State Department, John Kerry.