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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

Congress' Paralysis May Kill Program to Provide Visas to Iraqis Who Helped US

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10 days are all that is left before the program that provides visas to these brave individuals ends. These are not just people who did a favor here or there. We're talking about people whose lives are endangered because they helped America in substantial ways. We owe them. From the NY Times:

That many Iraqis who worked with the American military are still in the pipeline for special visas to emigrate to the United States the State Department will not say how many, but activists estimate it is in the low thousands remains an unresolved legacy of the American war.

It is also a reflection of the perilous state of the country nearly two years after the departure of American troops: the rising violence, which includes the remobilization of militias that once targeted Iraqis who helped the United States, has raised new fears and led more former interpreters to apply for the program, just as it is set to expire.

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A group of representatives and senators in Washington, including some lawmakers who are themselves Iraq veterans, is hurrying to save the program, which was enacted in 2007 and has been hampered all along by long delays because of security checks.

The original legislation earmarked 25,000 visas over five years, and over that time roughly 8,000 have been issued. So far this year, the State Department has issued just 454 special immigrant visas for Iraqis. Lawmakers say there is little actual opposition in Congress, but the issue has been caught in a legislative logjam, and has been given little attention by many politicians who would prefer to forget about the Iraq war.

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