In Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. government personnel and soldiers have depended daily on in-country interpreters, guides, finance professionals, and others who protect U.S. troops and support their missions. These nationals and their families daily risk their lives to support U.S. interests, and thus often become special targets of the Taliban, Al-Qaida, ISIS, or others due to their affiliation and employment with the U.S.
The Iraqi and Afghan Allies Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) programs began in 2008 and 2009 to recognize U.S. responsibility to protect our courageous partners. Iraq and Afghan nationals who worked with U.S. troops and who now face persecution and threats because of this are given a chance to find peace and safety in the U.S. through SIV status. This Veterans’ Day, as we honor U.S. Veterans, may we also stand with and honor those who have worked and shared dangers with them—and are now living as neighbors among us.
Here is a story of an SIV partner, provided by Church World Service affiliate office, Richmond, VA:
Mr. Fnu and his wife, two young boys and infant girl arrived from Afghanistan into Virginia this fall after serving together with the U.S. government in Kabul, Afghanistan. Mr. Fnu assisted the United States in Afghanistan by driving and transporting US Embassy personnel to various appointments and engagements. Because of his partnership with the United States, he and his family’s lives were in constant danger from the Taliban forces. Persons from the U.S. who worked with him in Afghanistan described him as a hard worker who maintained a very professional demeanor. To avoid the threats on his life, it was necessary for him and his family to escape his homeland—and with the benefit of a Special Immigrant Visa, he resettled in the U.S. Now in the Richmond area, it is his desire that his entire family continues schooling and learns to speak English well. While he works to support his family, he hopes that in the future he will be able to accomplish his dream of obtaining a college degree.
FAN urges members to call their congressional leaders now and ask them to increase visa numbers for SIVs from Afghanistan and Iraq, and to ensure cases currently backlogged are expedited to allow safety for their families.
For more information and other testimonials, contact the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP).
Attached below is a Veterans' Day 2014 prayer developed by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition for U.S. Soldiers and SIV Neighbors. We encourage you to use this prayer today to remember all the people who have helped our military overseas.