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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

IRAQI TRANSLATOR DENIED GREEN CARD BASED ON KURDISH PARTY MEMBERSHIP

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After 9/11, Congress toughened provision barring the admission of people not only who had engaged in terrorism, but who were members of organizations deemed to be terror groups.  This is important and obviously necessary to protect the country.



The problem is when you have a bureaucracy carrying out the law combined with a system that often takes years to correct problems, tragic results ensue. My friend Dan Kowalski at Bender's Immigration Bulletin forwarded me a link to a story in the Washington Post about one such case. It involves a translator named Saman Kareem Ahmad who was denied a green card three weeks ago despite risking his life for a US Special Forces unit and getting letters of commendation from the top generals in the Army and the Secretary of the Nave. His crime: he was once part of the Kurdish Democratic Party.



The KDP was labeled many years ago a terrorist organization because it had been involved with trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein. That is the reason the KDP remains on the terrorist group list despite the fact that the KDP is now a part of the governing coalition in Iraq. Why is the KDP still labeled a terrorist group if its offense was trying to carry out the same mission the US military carried out five years ago this week? Beats me. Obviously, times have changed. This is not that different than saying Osama bin Ladin is NOT a terrorist because 20 years ago the CIA helped him in the Mujahidin's fight with the Russians. Times change and our list of terrorist groups needs to change as well. Or at least we need to have more flexibility for USCIS to waive inadmissibility when the facts clearly show a person is not a threat to the country.



My guess is that the examiner who denied the case has no idea why the KDP is on the terrorist list. And, unfortunately, we've seen over and over again that USCIS cares little about the sacrifices made by our soldiers or people like Saman who risk their lives for our sake. I've highlighted too many cases on this blog for people to dismiss this as a one off problem. It's time for some common sense reforms so we can keep out the real bad guys and allow deserving applicants like Mr. Ahmad to have an opportunity to come to this country.

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Comments

  1. bobzibub's Avatar
    The reason is that Turkey (NATO ally) is dead set against any notion of the Kurds setting up their own state outside or inside Turkey.
    Not because they are terrorists by definition, but because they fight on the wrong side. Only a few hundred miles away, the US is supporting terrorist separatists in Iran to destabilize the country. I believe they are also Kurds.
  2. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    That may well be true, but the US has openly been working with the KDP to encourage their participation in the government of Iraq. If the KDP is the enemy, then our actions certainly aren't consistent with that.
  3. hmm's Avatar
    I think the right way to handle such cases is via multilevel adjudicator structure. The cases with no issues can be handled by people with only basic training, while cases with various red flags should be sent to upper levels to experts. From my experience this is not how things work at USCIS. And I doubt this USCIS policy is cost effective because if the case is litigated, government attorneys become involved and costs skyrocket.
  4. Grace's Avatar
    It sounds as though there is confusion between the KDP and the PKK - the PKK have been on the terrorist list for a long time, largely due to their attacks inside Turkey. When Turkey went after Kurdish "separatists" in Northern Iraq recently, they went in after the PKK, not the KDP. (Turkey doesn't want a Kurdish state, but neither does Iran or any other country in the region.)
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