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WTVC NewsChannel 9 :: News - Price of Freedom - The Price of Freedom: New Rules For Special Visa Program

The Price of Freedom: New Rules For Special Visa Program

When the United States Military has to fight in dangerous combat zones in faraway places many times good local interpreters help keep our service members alive.  Last week the U.S. Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act.  The legislation provides funding for U.S. military programs, but it also addresses the Special Immigrant Visa program.

"It just shows that Republicans and Democrats and the administration can get together and say we want to thank people who have helped this country,” U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann told us.  “We've got to do it in a reasonable manner that's fair to all involved in a way that makes sense, and I think we've restored that."

This is the latest attempt to protect our Iraqi and Afghan Allies.  In 2008, legislation was passed to grant Special Immigrant Visas to those who helped U.S. military forces.  It called for 25,000 visas to be granted to Iraqis.  Another piece of legislation was drafted later to help interpreters in Afghanistan.

Since the legislation was passed a low percentage of those visas have been granted.  Another issue with the previous law many times is that it took years for the process to play out.  The goal of the new bill is to improve that process.

"I think under the current legislation there is a 9 month cap which is clearly expediting the process,” Congressman Fleischmann said.

The new bill drastically cuts the number of visas available. The number of visas has been reduced from 5,000 available per year to 435.

"I think probably the lower amount would be something that they want to test out, and see if this procedure  is working perhaps before going forward with more," Representative Fleischmann said.

By Josh Roe

The Price of Freedom: New Rules For Special Visa Program

Monday, December 30 2013, 05:46 PM EST

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