The latest battle over Special Immigrant Visas pitted Stephen Miller, President Trump’s senior advisor, against the Pentagon. The military brass was lobbying for 6,000 special immigrant visas for Iraqis who worked for American forces in the country. These visas were once again billed as helping “interpreters”.
That’s a lot of interpreters considering that there were only 5,200 American troops in Iraq.
How could there be more Iraqi interpreters for American troops than there are troops?
The Special Immigrant Visa scam has been sold for over a decade using the same claim that it’s needed to save the lives of Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who are risking death by helping American soldiers.
In one decade, the United States has handed out 75,250 of these visas to Iraqi and Afghan employees, and their dependents. Between 2007 and 2017, they represented 1 percent of all immigrant visas.
The truth is that the military brass has wrongly used the incentive of Special Immigrant Visas to recruit local personnel and cut costs by promising them resettlement in the United States. Considering the costs of resettling even the nicest Iraqi or Afghan families, it would have been cheaper to pay each of them a six-figure salary. But that would have come out of the defense budget. The SIV scam passes the buck to local cities and states, to ordinary taxpayers and communities who have to hire interpreters who speak Pashto to interact with the children of the interpreters who are swamping local school systems.
One Iraqi or Afghan employee brings a lot more dependents and expenses with him. In 2017, the 4,677 Iraqi and Afghan employees brought 13,713 dependents with them for a total of 18,390 refugees.
Those were the worst numbers since before Obama took office.
While conventional refugee numbers have been slashed, the number of Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis and Afghans drastically shot up because the Pentagon was getting its way on immigration. Few of these visas were for actual interpreters. That number tends to be capped at 50 a year. Most of the SIV applicants coming in had to have only worked for a few years in often vaguely defined capacities.
Some were actual interpreters. Many more were cultural advisors and linguists.
All they have to do is claim that they received threats over their work for the US or the ISAF, the multinational force in Afghanistan, and they are resettled in the United States as refugees.
While the media has repeatedly accused President Trump of stopping interpreters from coming to this country even though they, allegedly, risked their lives, the number of SIV visas for Afghans and Iraqis shot up from 10,681 in 2014, to 14,383 in 2016, to 18,390 in 2017.