News from the Week of April 4th 2016

Here’s our weekly round-up what we’ve been reading and watching, in the news and around the web:

At the top of our minds this week is Samey Honaryar, the Afghan interpreter who was beaten and threatened by the Taliban for his work with the U.S. military. After a failed abduction attempt, he fled—first to India, then to Mexico, and then across the Rio Grande to ask for asylum in the United States. But his asylum request was denied; the judge believed that the Taliban wasn’t a real threat because Samey was alive and free. Samey is detained and awaits a new hearing in his asylum case.

Samey’s case is extreme, but unfortunately, not unique. His case also sheds light on how difficult it can be for Afghans and Iraqis who served with the U.S. military to obtain Special Immigrant Visas, a process that is rigorous and time consuming even for those who make it through.

For U.S. Marine and VFAI member Richard Weir, the failure to protect Samey, and those like him, is personal. We know that many veterans agree, so VFAI has launched a sign-on letter for vets to urge the DOJ to investigate Samey’s case. Add your name to demonstrate how important it is to veterans that terps and translators to have fair and efficient Special Immigrant Visa and asylum processes.

On Tuesday, the White House released its official resettlement numbers. Six months into the fiscal year, the United States has resettled only 1,285 Syrian refugees, far behind its target of 10,000 by October. In the midst of some public resistance to resettling more Syrian refugees over fears of terrorism, refugees themselves are reminding Americans that they, too, are appalled by the actions of ISIS and desire to live in peace.

Lastly, food for thought in a “Room for Debate” conversation about U.S. responsibility for Afghan refugees at the New York Times this week. There, Kathleen Newland, co-founder of the Migration Policy Institute, argues that our core responsibility is the safety of those who served alongside the U.S. military—those for whom the Special Immigrant Visa program was designed.