Iraqis who say their lives are in danger because they worked with the U.S. government in Iraq fear their chances of finding refuge in the United States may vanish under a new order signed on Friday by President Donald Trump.
The order temporarily suspends the United States' main refugee program and halts visas being issued to citizens of several predominantly Muslim countries, including Iraq. It is expected to affect two programs U.S. lawmakers created a few years after the 2003 invasion of Iraq to help the tens of thousands of Iraqis who risked their lives helping Americans.
Trump says the order is necessary to prevent Islamist militants from coming to the United States posing as refugees, but refugee advocacy groups say the lengthy screening of applicants by multiple U.S. agencies makes this fear unfounded. Read More
Trump has called for a strategic plan for fighting ISIS from US generals who are likely to recommend more boots on the ground. But will Iraq and Syrian civilians cooperate with these forces in the light of Trump's treatment of Iraqis who have helped the US in the past. To operate in Iraq and Syria, US forces needs translators whom they can trust and who are familiar with the area of operation and its people. The Iraqis and Syrians who cooperate with US forces to do so at high risk to themselves. They have been willing to take the risk when they were promised that they and their families would be resettled in the United States. Trump has now taken that away from them. He has also made it far more difficult for Iraqis and Syrians to cooperate with US forces, playing into the hands of extremists who accuse the US of waging war on Islam and opening cooperative Iraqis and Syrians to the accusation of betraying their faith. .