Iraqi interpreters banned from the U.S. due to President Trump’s executive order on immigration will now be allowed back in.
Iraq was one of seven majority-Muslim countries that the administration is preventing all entry from for 90 days. The administration says its objective is to improve vetting procedures for new arrivals.
The executive order still stands but it’s interpretation has now been clarified and Iraqi interpreters with a Special Immigrant Visa (S.I.V.) will be allowed into the US. This interpretation was determined by the departments of Defense and Homeland Security as they worked through the many challenges that the order initially presented.
This change came after a bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote Trump a letter in a plea for these interpreters to be given be green light. They called interpreter admittance “critical” and said that allowing he interpreters in meant standing with U.S. military personnel. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), a Marine veteran who helped bring an interpreter he worked with to the U.S., spoke out in forthright terms.
“His policies literally put our troops’ lives at risk -- I’ve heard this loud and clear when I have visited them overseas,” Moulton said. “They also prove he has zero understanding of our country’s values and no intention of defending our Constitution.”
Allowing the Iraqi interpreters to enter the US is a step in easing the tension that the travel ban had created between the U.S. and Iraq, according to US diplomats and State Department officials.
The bad blood became apparent earlier this week when the Iraqi parliament unanimously voted to retaliate against the U.S by preventing Americans from entering the country. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the country will not do that but he did call the ban “offensive.” Further, he said that the US should show more gratitude towards the nation that has worked with them to fight terrorism.
Iraqi interpreters have been working with U.S. military on the ground for over a decade.
Some have argued that Iraq, a U.S. ally in the war with ISIS, should be removed from the list completely. Yet there are no signals indicating that will happen anytime soon.
“This is a negative message to other Muslims to be extremists. If you treat someone in a bad way you encourage him to be bad,” Hanan Fatlawi, an Iraqi lawmaker, said in an interview with CBS News.