Hameed Darweesh aided U.S. armed forces in Iraq as a translator and electrical engineer for over a decade. For obvious reasons, that put his life at risk. After his home was raided by Baghdad police and two of his colleagues were murdered at work, he and his family fled to another part of Iraq, according to court documents. Darweesh and his family then had to flee their new town when a shopkeeper informed him men driving around in a BMW were asking for him and wanted to know where he lived.
Darweesh is one of thousands of Iraqis who have risked their lives by cooperating with or working for the U.S. government. Congress created the Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program to get people like him who have “provided faithful and valuable service to the United States Government” out of harm’s way. But the process is painfully slow, and the number of people who actually receive visas after receiving promises of protection from the U.S. is shameful.
The order bans nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days; the White House initially said this should be interpreted to include even those who are lawful permanent residents of the U.S. who had been out of the country temporarily. The order also halts all refugee admissions from anywhere in the world for 120 days, and all refugee admissions from Syria – where one of the greatest humanitarian crises since the Holocaust is underway – indefinitely.