Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle pleaded with President Trump on Monday to carve out an exception to his new executive order for Iraqi citizens who contributed to the U.S. war effort, and are now in danger of being left in danger in that war-torn country.
Thousands of translators who helped out American troops have already been brought to the U.S., but more are still trying to get here — and some of them seem to have been snagged by the new Trump policy, which imposes a temporary ban on most visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries and temporarily halts all refugee admissions.
“These allies risked their own lives, as well as the well-being of their families, to advance America’s security interests in a region where their skillsets and willingness to confront extremism have been invaluable to mission success,” said Reps. Duncan Hunter, Adam Kinzinger, Earl Blumenauer, Steve Stivers, Seth Moulton and Peter Welch.
“It is important that a special exception is made for the consideration of individuals who directly supported American personnel overseas,” the lawmakers — three Republicans and three Democrats — said.
Mr. Hunter’s name on the letter is important since he, unlike the other lawmakers, was an early and fervent supporter of Mr. Trump.
He and the others said they feared that Mr. Trump’s new order could keep locals from signing up to help American troops in ongoing and future conflicts.
Nearly a decade ago Congress approved a special visa program to help Iraqi and Afghan citizens who helped the U.S. war efforts. The goal was to protect translators and others who were in danger in their homes because of the assistance they gave.
Mr. Trump’s order snares the ones from Iraq, lumping them with other travelers from that country, who face a 90-day ban on entering the U.S. unless there are critical national interest reasons at stake.
“It’s not just good politics to make a special case for interpreters, it’s the right thing to do,” said Joe Kasper, Mr. Hunter’s chief of staff.