Just before Congress left for recess last week, it did something rare: It worked across the aisle to quickly clear legislation that filled what the Obama administration had declared an urgent need: authorization of 1,000 additional special visas to bring over Afghan citizens who helped the United States during the war there.
But the number of so-called Special Immigrant Visas only tell part of the story. The way they are processed has also raised questions.
Three years after the United States went to war in Afghanistan, an 18-year-old Afghan man who goes by the nickname “Outback” decided to become an interpreter for the U.S. Armed Forces. He had some insight into that world since his brother, Humayoun, 31, had started working as a translator in 2003. But neither of them expected to leave Afghanistan because of their jobs.
After receiving death threats for working with the U.S. military, Humayoun applied for a Special Immigrant Visa in 2006. He had to leave Kabul for his safety and changed his cell phone number numerous times. Gunmen shot dead his friend’s father inside his home. Humayoun eventually received his visa. Now Outback is trying to come to the United States, too — unsuccessfully so far.
The tale of these two siblings signifies one of the lesser-discussed casualties of a decade of war: how vulnerable are Afghan citizens who helped the United States , and how hard it has been for many of them to get protective assistance from the U.S. government. Full story