No way to treat our friends, indeed

If we thought the situation was improving for interpreters helping US forces in Iraq, Malou Innocent reports otherwise at Tampa Bay Online. It’s not just the forms, the fees, the outside-Iraq interview, the array of bureaucratic obstacles the applicant has to overcome—some of which might be reduced by legislation that’s not exactly rushing through Congress. It’s right there in the numbers.

“On Oct. 1,” Innocent writes, “the green card quota for Iraqi interpreters allowed admission to the United States was raised from 50 to 500. It’s a step in the right direction, but the odds are against most applicants.” At least 5,000 people are likely eligible.

Nicole Simon, an immigration lawyer based in Philadelphia, says the 500 immigrant visas approved for this year have already been used. Petitions that don’t make the cut in one year are placed on a waiting list for the next, so the quotas have already been filled through 2009.”

“‘The waiting list is essentially a “waiting to die” list,’ says [former Oregon Army National Guard sergeant Joey Coon who is working to bring his former interpreter to the United States.] ‘Interpreters have to wait a year until their visas are even processed. So much could happen in a year in Iraq. I feel bad about the thousands of other Iraqis who don’t have a friend in the United States. How they are going to go through this process?’”

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