The good news is that the visas are coming faster. They’re not coming fast enough by a long shot, but word of the few visa approvals is enough to keep hope alive for the interpreters whose moments of hope are few and far between. Hopefully by now you heard when the US troops withdrew from Iraq they left behind the employees that interpreted for them. For these interpreters the war is not over; some have been already killed; some are hiding in family homes, and even some are moving about homeless because they have been thrown out of their family homes.
But even with the interpreter gone the home stays in danger of attack, regardless. A grandmother has been killed because her grandson was an interpreter; while he is waiting for a SIV visa in a neighboring country. Why did the interpreter not have his grandmother with him?? Because he is living in an apartment with seven other refugees, each splitting an exhorbitant rental fee; while he works whatever poorly paid job that is available (if any). There is a second attack on the family home in Iraq and his mother is hospitalized with internal bleeding, and then he gets the news that he does not qualify for a security clearance that will allow him to take what is left of his family (his father and now nearly deranged mother) to resettle in America where they can live in safety.
Another interpreter was refused a security clearance also, based on (false) accusations of stealing an electrical cable and also having suspicious phone numbers in his cell phone activity. The phone numbers were put in his phone by military personnel who wanted him to have of these parties they were then working as allies with. But things change so fast in Iraq, now these phone numbers are those of suspected terrorists…… How do I know these guys are good guys? Because I have talked with some of the US soldiers that served with them and whose lives they saved.
I don’t know how to help. Do you have any ideas?
New Day: HAPPY EASTER. The cats woke me and I laid here listening to roosters crowing and thought of apostle Peter and of how trusting we MUST be. Only the Bible readers may get my reference, and even then some may not……… I then heard geese which remind me of seasons changing and I also hear the thump of an oxygen machine from another bedroom which reminds me of our every last breath. Man this is deep isn’t it? :o)
But my heart feels good even with all the daunting tasks. Just the task of qualifying for a senior menu is daunting enough.
I wrote a letter to the NSC asking for more careful consideration for the interpreters yesterday……..and then I immediately asked myself who I think I am. It’s one thing to give words of comfort to the group of Iraqi interpreters I am Facebook friends with, but it seems to cross a line to write a government agency. Not that I haven’t left the little telephone blurbs we are allowed if we call the White House. I have done that; called to leave an appeal for help for faster help for the “terps”.
It definitely feels odd to write an appeal to a small group of powerful people. I doubt they’ll even read it; surely they have people that toss out “extra clutter” letters…… Or maybe (or probably) they file the letters from “concerned citizens”. I wonder if they have people that assess the sanity of the writers……….. But what can a person do you know? Write or keep your thoughts to yourself??
I do know at least one of interpreters who has been refused a visa is being advocated for by his former superior officer/s. I just want to praise those officers (and soldiers) who stand up for their interpreters against possible wrong judgement.
I saw one of those slogan/sayings you can put on your facebook page like a refrigerator magnet last week that said something like: ” I wanted to ask God why he allowed this or that terrible thing but I was afraid He would ask me the same question.” (I paraphrase ’cause I can’t remember the exact words but you get the idea).
So who do I think I am? Nobody important but nobody not important either. If my letter to the national security people gets filed under “nut-job letters” so be it………… I’ll know at least I did my best and I can rest and breathe easy. And then I’ll let those folks do their job, but not without first saying I expect them to do the best job possible because there are human lives involved. Now it’s time for me to trust. And that’s another daunting task………………
Here’s the letter I wrote to the National Security people:
Dear Council Members:
I am writing with an important request.
As you know, there are very many Iraqi war refugees trying to make it to the safety of American soil. The group I have chosen to be concerned about are the interpreters who worked with US military troops . This is primarily because I consider translators to be of utmost importance to the goal of peace-keeping. And while the interpreters or “terps” as they are called by the military are not of the same caliber as the most scholarly translators, they were still in a very crucial position. Also, this group is in especially great danger of retaliation for helping the United States.
I would like to ask your assurance that each interpreter that is decided unworthy of a SIV visa, have separate, impartial and especially intelligent reconsideration of their status. I am asking this because I have been in contact (on the internet) with over one hundred of the interpreters and it has been difficult to even observe from a distance their anxiety-ridden waiting in the dangerous surroundings. When several have received a negative reply to their visa requests it is absolutely demoralizing to the others and there is no clear way (at least at this point), for the rejected ones to contest the judgement and ask for a fair hearing.
You may reply that these people are not US citizens and may not be allowed the same regard as a citizen, but I have also spoken with some of the US soldiers who served alongside these interpreters. These interpreters literally sometimes saved the lives of American troops; not only by interpreting, but sometimes by picking up a gun and defending fallen soldiers.
Please, you must make certain that every of these interpreters that deserve relocation to safety be allowed to have it. Can you assure me of this?
I have a difficult time trusting the infallibility of systems that have shown themselves too easy to fail, and being that I have become familiar with some of these interpreters online, and I worry about them, I thought I would send this letter. It is my hope that you might assure me there will be the most careful efforts made to protect these people’s lives.
I hope to hear from you by phone, letter or email; whatever is easiest. And I am sorry if this takes your time away from other matters, but all lives are precious and I hope you understand my concern for these brave allies who sacrificed so very much for the United States.
Linda Wesson Hirashima