Afghan Interpreters Still Struggle To Obtain Visas

• November 4, 2013 9:01 am


Retired Army Captain Matt Zeller joined Fox and Friends alongside his former Afghani interpreter Janis Shinwari Monday morning, to discuss Shinwari’s lengthy application process to obtain a visa to come to the United States legally. The process, one that Zeller described as "extremely broken," took four years to complete, with Shinwari’s application not even brought up by the State Department for the first two years.

Cpt. Zeller credits Shinwari for saving his life during a firefight in 2008, in which their 15-man patrol was ambushed by roughly 45 members of the Taliban.

"He was part of the QRF that showed up and jumped into my fox hole and killed two Taliban fighters, who if he hadn't been there, would have shot me and killed me," he said. "He's been my best friend since."

When asked about the role that local translators play in US operations in Afghanistan, Zeller stressed their value.

"You ask any veteran, all of us have a story like janus, an interpreter who ended up saving our lives or providing with us that useful piece of cultural information that prevented our units from making enemies of the local population and made friends," he said.

Obtaining a visa has become a growing problem for Afghani translators who work with American forces to fight the Taliban. The Washington Free Beacon’s Alana Goodman detailed the bureaucratic labyrinth that has confronted many Afghani translators, including a man named Hafez, who in 2009 helped U.S. Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer in a firefight that would earn Meyer the Medal of Honor.