February 4, 2017

Pentagon Welcomes US Decision to Allow Iraqis on Special Visas to Enter Country


Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James Wagner
Patrol in Mahawil, Iraq

Army 1st Lt. James Gutlielmi of 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, along with an interpreter and an Iraqi police officer, conducts a joint patrol in Mahawil, Iraq, Jan. 23, 2009

Washington, DC – Defense Department officials have welcomed a decision from the US government to allow Iraqi translators and interpreters with special documentation to travel to the United States, a Pentagon spokesman said recently (Feb 2).

“We are pleased that the US government has determined that it’s in the national interest to allow Iraqi special immigrant visa holders to continue to travel to the United States,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told Pentagon reporters.

The Defense Department further welcomes that embassies and consulates overseas will continue to process and issue special immigrant visas to qualified applicants, including Iraqis who worked with the US armed forces in Iraq, Davis said.

The Iraqis, as well as other local partners around the world, provide services that are mission critical to the Defense Department, Davis said.

Vital Partnerships

“These partnerships are vital to the success of all our military efforts, and in many cases [these are] people who’ve worked and put themselves in great personal risk in doing so,” Davis said.

“A lot of people who serve, a lot of people in military who currently serve, a lot of our veterans owe their lives to these people, literally, and we want to make sure that that is taken into account when they face the US immigration process,” he added.

President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order last week that halts entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants from seven countries, including Iraq, into the United States for 90 days, excluding foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, NATO visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas.

Davis said DoD officials are working with State Department and Department of Homeland Security officials to “review potential impacts of the executive order on our partners and our operations” and to “determine if there are additional ways we can provide assistance to our proven partners from the affected countries.”

US service members are able to travel on their assigned military missions without impact, he said. “As for family members,” he said, “we’re working closely with the State Department and DHS to help them grant case-by-case waivers where necessary for their travel, if a family member happens to be somebody from one of these countries.”

The seven countries in the executive order are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.