Trump's Muslim Ban Puts U.S. Allies, Troops In Immediate Danger

Trump’s Muslim Ban Puts U.S. Allies, Troops In Immediate Danger

Trump refugee ban affects also the country’s friends

President Donald Trump’s new refugee ban affects thousands, including the country’s own allies and friends. While the world commemorated the victims of the Holocaust last Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump was signing an order to ban refugees from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States and to halt visas. Among the banned countries are several with which the country does business, as well as Iraq, where thousands helped the U.S. during wartime and now face the mortal dangers of a destabilized nation. As explained by Reuters:

“Iraqis who say their lives are in danger because they worked with the U.S. government in Iraq fear their chances of finding refuge in the United States may vanish under a new order signed on Friday by President Donald Trump… It is expected to affect two programs U.S. lawmakers created a few years after the 2003 invasion of Iraq to help the tens of thousands of Iraqis who risked their lives helping Americans.”

Under the argument that the refugee ban will prevent radical Islamist extremists from entering the country, the refugee ban affects tens of thousands of innocent applicants, including people who have supported the United States against their own governments. A man from Baghdad whose wife worked for the USAID as a bookkeeper, told Reuters in a telephone interview,

“Mr. Trump, the new president, killed our dreams. I don’t have any hope to go to the United States.”

In addition, the refugee ban will alienate an important U.S. ally essential for survival in the Middle East: its interpreters. Over 7,000 Iraqi interpreters have managed to move to the U.S. under the Special Immigrant Visa program since 2008, and around 500 are still being processed. A further 58,000 Iraqis are awaiting interviews, according to the International Refugee Assistance Project.

“A lot of translators were trying to get the hell out of there because they had a mark on their head for working with U.S. forces. They’re viewed as collaborators.” 

Allen Vaught, a former U.S. Army captain deployed to Iraq in 2003, fears for American troops. Trump’s Muslim ban, he says, will make it significantly harder for troops to recruit local support. Mac McEachin, a national security policy associate at the International Refugee Assistance Project believes the refugee ban is a tactical error:

“We might need interpreters in the future and the last thing you want to do is make people think we’ll use them when it’s politically expedient and then get rid of them as soon as the next administration comes in.”

The Iraq and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa programs, which started in 2008 and 2009 respectively, were and are still a commitment to help “those who have helped us.” Matt Zeller, a former Army captain and the co-founder of the interpreter advocacy group No One Left Behind, had this to say:

“We’ve let thousands of people in since 2008 and not a single one has been convicted. If this goes through, we will fully have failed to keep faith with our allies.”

As Vaught remembers, many of these interpreters earn only about five dollars a week, and they travel together with U.S. troops without any weapons or armor. It takes them years and several applications to be able to leave Iraq —if they manage to stay alive long enough to do it. The refugee ban is a slap in the face to those Iraqis and all those thousands who have helped U.S. interests even in the hardest of times. And the consequences of leaving them with no hope for a better will also greatly endanger the U.S. itself.


Featured image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images News

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From Mexico City, Carolina has lived in five different countries, experiences she defines as the most enriching. She has focused her studies and work on international conflicts and international security issues, diplomacy and protocol. Carolina holds two MA degrees and hopes to begin her PhD studies soon.