Pay back:

The Iraqis who have worked for the US government during the war have a “bull’s-eye on their back,” as Senator Edward M. Kennedy put it last year. Theirs aren’t the only lives at risk, either; militants have kidnapped or killed relatives of those employed by the United States. These workers need — and are owed — safe ways to build new lives.

Some of these workers are relocating to the United States on “special immigrant” visas. A new law backed by Kennedy increased the number of visas from 500 in an earlier program to 5,000. The law also expanded beyond interpreters and translators to include all Iraqis who work for the United States. This could include cooks, drivers, and fixers. Iraqis have “skills that are easily adaptable to our economy,” says Richard Chacon, director of the state’s Office for Refugees and Immigrants. Chacon knows of only a few Iraqi special immigrants in Massachusetts. But the state could set up job programs to accommodate more.

Special immigrants are only a sliver of Iraq’s refugee crisis. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 2.4 million Iraqis are displaced inside their country, and another 2 million have fled to neighbouring Syria, Jordan, and elsewhere. Still, making a place here for thousands of Iraqis who helped the US government would repay a debt of gratitude. — The Boston Globe