Two Republican veterans in Congress are signaling their support for Iraqis aiding the U.S. military to be exempted from the Trump administration's immigration ban.
Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.), an Air Force veteran, and Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.), a Marine veteran, sent a letter to President Donald Trump expressing "strong support for the request of Secretary of Defense James Mattis to exempt military interpreters, aides, and other allies who risked their lives alongside U.S. personnel in Iraq" from his executive order on immigration.
The Pentagon said earlier Monday that it was compiling a list of Iraqis that have tangibly aided the U.S. military to be recommended for exemption from Trump's executive order, at the request of the White House.
"With regard to your executive order to temporarily halt immigration originating from specified countries, we want to register our strong support for the request of Secretary of Defense James Mattis to exempt military interpreters, aides, and other allies who risked their lives alongside U.S. personnel in Iraq," Kinzinger and Hunter, both of whom served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, wrote in the letter Monday.
"Congress established the Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program in 2008 and we are acutely aware of the significant contribution of these individuals in support of America’s global campaign against radical terrorism."
The letter was also signed by Reps. Steve Stivers (R., Ohio), Earl Blumenauer (D., Ore.), Seth Moulton (D., Mass.), and Peter Welch (D., Vt.).
Trump unveiled the executive order on Friday, issuing a ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States for at least 90 days in an effort to improve vetting measures and keep terrorists out of the country. The travel ban was met with immediate scrutiny, including some from Republicans, and protests at airports across the country.
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said Sunday that green-card holders are exempt from the executive order. Several lawmakers have argued that Iraqi interpreters and aides working alongside the U.S. military should be also be exempt from the ban.
"These allies risked their own lives, as well as the well-being of their families, to advance America's security interests in a region where their skillsets and willingness to confront extremism have been invaluable to mission success," Kinzinger and Hunter wrote of Iraqis aiding the U.S. armed forces.
"We are concerned that, with specific application to individuals who worked with the U.S. government on the ground, certain immigrants deserving prompt consideration are likely to be overlooked," they wrote. "We encourage you to make special consideration in the review process for these individuals, who are certain to face threats to their own lives as part of the broader pause in refugee and immigrant admissions."
Published under: Donald Trump , Military