IN OTHER WORDS
Congress has finally pried open America’s door to Iraqis and Afghans who have served the country at great risk. Congress needs to go a lot further, adding more visa slots and approving resettlement benefits that would allow these people to grab a lifeline the US has been far too slow to offer. Thousands who have aided the US troops have become targets for militants.
Under current US law, 500 Iraqis and Afghan translators, interpreters and others who have worked for the US armed forces for a year may obtain special visas each year. Those numbers are shamefully low. And even those who do get visas often don’t have the many thousands of dollars they need to make the move. Some lawmakers seem to be waking up to that. The Senate last week approved an amendment to the labour, health and human services appropriations bill that would grant Iraqi and Afghan interpreters and translators the same relocation benefits as refugees for six months.
Congress should also pass a bill that would raise the number of special immigrant visas available for Iraqis and Afghans who have worked for the US from 500 to 5,000 a year for the next five years. The bill would also streamline what is now a tortuous process. This country owes this and more to the men and women who have risked their lives to help Americans on duty. — International Herald Tribune