Topic

interpreters

10 petitions

This petition won 4 years ago

Petition to US Embassy in Kabul, US Department of State

Save my Afghan interpreter

When I served as an Embedded Combat Adviser in Afghanistan, my interpreter, Janis Shinwari, saved my life. Now I need you to help me save Janis’ life. In 2008, Janis and I were caught in the middle of a firefight. He took swift action when a combatant shot at me. But beyond that specific incident, Janis served a critical role for me and all of the other troops serving in Afghanistan. Thousands of Afghan nationals have served as interpreters to assist US troops in communicating in real time and providing a cultural link between the troops and Afghan nationals.  However, because they are so visible in their communities, many interpreters have become targets for violence. Janis knows for a fact that the Taliban has added his name to a kill list and he is in constant danger. For the moment, he is living safely on an army base, but he needs to leave the country immediately to ensure his safety and that of his family. The US operates a specific visa program for Afghan nationals who serve as interpreters who want to relocate to the US -- and there is a similar program for interpreters in Iraq. The program was created through legislation in 2009 (the Afghan Allies Protection Act), but thousands of interpreters like Janis are still waiting for their visas. The process is incredibly complicated for applicants and bureaucrat hold ups leave interpreters waiting in dangerous situations for months or even years. Now, both programs are weeks away from expiring unless Congress takes action to renew them. Janis began his application for a US Visa in 2011. Today, he is still waiting for the US Embassy in Kabul to issue him the visa he has earned. The Embassy and the State Department have the power to help Janis leave Afghanistan and start a life in a safe place. I know first hand how critical interpreters like Janis are to our troops serving overseas. It’s time that the US do the right thing and help Janis escape the dangerous situation he’s in because of the work that he did for our country.  Please join me in calling on the US Embassy in Kabul and the State Department to help save Janis life by issuing his visa immediately.

Matt Zeller
113,418 supporters
This petition won 1 year ago

Petition to US Embassy in Kabul, US Department of State

Help save Ehsan, the interpreter in Afghanistan who helped US troops

Thanks to a previous Change.org petition, I was able to help Janis Shinwari, my interpreter while I served as a base intelligence officer in Afghanistan, secure a visa to resettle in the US after he was stuck for years in bureaucratic red tape. Now I need your help again to save my other interpreter, Ehsan.  While serving in Iraq in 2008, I learned that the help of local Afghan nationals like Janis and Ehsan was critical to our effort. Thousands of Afghan nationals have served as interpreters to assist US troops in communicating in real time and providing a cultural link between the troops and Afghan nationals. It wasn’t until after my service, when I learned that Janis’ life was in danger as he was placed on a Taliban kill list because of his work to help US troops, that I truly understand how much these brave individuals put on the line. Every day, many of these interpreters live in fear that they or their families will be harmed in retaliation for their efforts -- a very real and deadly threat. Like Janis, Ehsan is an amazing man. During our time together, Ehsan helped my unit and I interdict over 7 tons (millions of dollars worth) of drugs used by the Taliban to fund their attacks. The Taliban know this and as a result placed him on their kill list. Without our help, he could die.  Luckily, the US operates a specific visa program for Afghan nationals who serve as interpreters who want to relocate to the US -- and there is a similar program for interpreters in Iraq. The program was created through legislation in 2009 (the Afghan Allies Protection Act), but thousands of interpreters are still waiting for their visas. The process is incredibly complicated for applicants and bureaucrat hold ups leave interpreters waiting in dangerous situations for months or even years. Now, both programs are set to expire in the coming months unless Congress takes action to renew them. When my previous campaign took off, Janis’ application started moving faster and now Janis has his visa to safety. I don't think I've ever heard him as happy as when he finally received his visa. Ehsan, my other interpreter, heard all about our efforts to help Janis and contacted me begging that I do for him what I did for Janis. Ehsan submitted his application to the US Embassy in Kabul in June 2012 but he’s still waiting for his visa. The Embassy and the State Department have the power to help Ehsan leave Afghanistan and start a life in a safe place. Together, we can help make that happen.

Matt Zeller
116,611 supporters
This petition won 10 months ago

Petition to Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley

Exempt Wartime Interpreters from President Trump's Executive Order Banning Immigration

As an U.S. Army Captain serving in Afghanistan, I was almost killed by Taliban fighters. My Afghan translator, Janis, saved my life. We made a promise to translators like Janis, who served alongside our troops, to help them immigrate to the United States.President Trump’s ban on all immigration of refugees breaks that promise to the thousands of Afghan and Iraqi wartime allies. The president's Executive Order shuts the door on thousands of foreign interpreters, our wartime allies, who served alongside our military since 2001. Enacting a four-month ban on ALL immigration of refugees and an outright ban on the immigration of Iraqis condemns thousands of our Iraqi wartime allies to languish and fend for themselves against the very enemies we asked them to help us fight.The blanket ban on immigration from Iraq and the four month moratorium on immigration from Afghanistan prevents our allies from reaching safety here in America and leaves countless thousands to be hunted for their service to the United States. If we commit to this, we will permanently harm our national security. Our credibility will be forever neutered if not eroded. Why would any potential ally ever trust America to keep its word again? It pains me to think how many US soldiers will now die in future wars because we couldn't recruit the local support that is often the difference between life and death. Moreover, this ban imposes a lifetime moral injury on our Iraq war veterans. Vietnam Veterans speak often of their half-century injury at having abandoned so many of our Vietnamese allies. Please ask President Trump to keep our promise to America’s veterans and allow for the Special Immigration Visa program to continue uninterrupted. Sincerely, Matt Zeller, Co-FounderNo One Left Behind  

No One Left Behind
40,916 supporters
Update posted 3 days ago

Petition to U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, President of the United States

Afghan and Iraqi Translators Saved American Lives. Make them "Honorary Veterans."

While serving in the US Army in 2008, my Afghan interpreter Janis Shinwari saved my life. During an intense firefight, Janis killed two Taliban fighters that had snuck up behind me. Without Janis, they would have killed me. In Iraq and Afghanistan, translators serve alongside the US military and are essential to keeping us safe and helping us do our mission. And they do so at the risk of being targeted by the Taliban, including their families. Janis is not the exception. There are many translators who have saved American lives on the battlefield. Like Fred, who saved 25 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard.Supporters had to crowdfund the money to fly him and his family to the US before the Taliban killed him. After serving, Steeler's Offensive Tackle and Army Ranger Alejandro Villaneuva worked hard to get his Afghan translator here. After serving alongside our military, many translators received SIV’s or Special Immigrant Visas, so they could relocated to the United States. Unfortunately, they are not considered veterans. We are asking Congress to honor its promise to our wartime allies. We want them to be treated as the heroes they are when they finally come here after years of screening by the State Department, Defense Department, and Department of Homeland Security. All we are asking is for Congress to name them "Honorary Veterans" so that they can check the veteran's preference box on job applications and 56,000 veteran focused charities to include them in their missions. Many are standing by. We are not asking for VA benefits. This is an innovative idea that comes at no cost to the taxpayer and requires no new regulations.  Best of all, we have bipartisan support!  Yes, people in D.C. can agree on the same thing. This is a simple wording issue. These charities can't help Special Immigrant Visa recipients because technically they are "non-veterans."  Ask me if I think my translator is a veteran.  Ask the guys from the Pennsylvania National Guard who spent their own money to fly their translator here if he is a veteran.  Ask Alejandro.   Since at least World War 2, the United States has a very checkered history of honoring our promises to our wartime allies. Yes, big alliances like NATO matter, but it is the friendships and trust at the individual level that is our greatest diplomatic tool. The world knows that we didn't fully take care of the Filipino soldiers that helped us in World War 2, the Koreans during the Korean War, the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, and now the brave men and women from Afghanistan and Iraq who risked everything to stand shoulder to shoulder with us. With your help, we can change this. We need your voice to get this to the Senate floor. It's time the American people demand our representatives to stand shoulder to shoulder with those that saved American lives. I have a family today because of my translator.

No One Left Behind
34,564 supporters