No worse friend? America and Special Immigrant Visas

By Gil Barndollar

Since 2007, the United States has awarded visas to Iraqi and Afghan citizens who risked their lives working for U.S. forces. Collectively known as the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, this effort has likely saved tens of thousands of former U.S. military interpreters from death at the hands of our enemies. Yet Reuters reported recently that the Trump Administration has added an additional layer of vetting that has all but choked off this lifeline to some of our most faithful friends.

The SIV program began as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2006. Since then, it has been reauthorized numerous times and expanded to include Afghans. The requirements are stringent: applicants must have completed at least two years of faithful service to U.S. forces and then undergo a 14-part application process. SIV recipients must demonstrate that because of their service to the United States their lives are in ongoing and serious danger.

Gil Barndollar is Director of Middle East Studies at the Center for the National Interest. He served as a U.S. Marine infantry officer from 2009 to 2016, deploying to Afghanistan twice.

Read this piece in its entirety on USA Today HERE.