HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver tackled an issue that has gotten little attention from the mainstream media, helping to save the Iraqis and Afghans that helped the United States in the wars it started in their countries. The audience may have laughed but much of this is heartbreaking and anger inducing, anger at the United States for being so inhumane and heartless.
Translators who have aided the U.S. Military in Afghanistan and Iraq are in great danger in their home countries, but red tape is making it impossible for many of them to leave. John Oliver interviews Mohammad, one translator who made it out.
For the American public, the war in Iraq is over, receding quickly from our memory.
But for tens of thousands of Iraqis who have risked their lives in the service of America, it continues at a perilous clip. They continue to receive death threats from militants who view them as traitors. Some have been assassinated since our withdrawal.
Sadly, the current policy of the United States towards these is simple: submit your application and wait. If you can survive for two years (the current amount of time an Iraqi must wait for their first interview to be scheduled), we might consider resettling you.
Even worse, the Afghans who stood beside us for the past decade are now coming up against the unmoving bureaucracy of the U.S. Government, which is only processing a small number of cases each month.
The List Project has helped nearly 2,00 U.S.-affiliated Iraqis make it to safety over the years, but our work continues. We continue to rely on small donors for operational support: please consider a small donation if you’re able.
On September 3, 2013, Scribner published “To Be a Friend is Fatal: the Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind,” Kirk W. Johnson’s memoir about the List Project’s seven-year long struggle to protect thousands of Iraqis on the list. The book centers around the lives of four Iraqis who stepped forward to help the United States, following them as they flee from Iraq and come up against the labyrinthine bureaucracy of the U.S. refugee resettlement program.
An execuive order could ease the process. We need to take care of the people who put their lives at risk to help the US, that includes their families.