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WTVC NewsChannel 9 :: News - Price of Freedom - The Price Of Freedom: Tennessee Lawmaker Discusses Helping Iraqi Allies

The Price Of Freedom: Tennessee Lawmaker Discusses Helping Iraqi Allies

Beginning in 2004, Martha Boyd served in Iraq as a Civil Affairs Officer.  She told us it would have been very difficult to do their jobs without the help of good interpreters.

"You rely heavily on foreign nationals, the local nationals to help in every way,” Boyd said.  “They were primarily interpreters, but they were also political advisors and cultural advisors."

Interpreters helped keep our men and women in uniform alive during the Iraq war.  

"A special situation was created so that more interpreters could get visas to come into this country and be safe,” U.S. Representative Jim Cooper from Tennessee’s 5th District said.
Representative Cooper was in Congress in 2008 when the law was passed that authorized up to 5,000 Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis each year for five years.  At this point less than a third of the visas have been granted, and right now the program is set to end at the end of this month.

"The entire U.S. immigration system is troubled, but this special program should not have been troubled,” Representative Cooper said.  “We should have allowed as many interpreters as possible to come in to this country to keep them safe because they saved our troops lives.  We should help save their lives."

As these former interpreters continue to wait many are not safe on the streets of Bagdad.  Many have been threatened in their own homes.  Congressman Cooper says this is a very complicated situation, but as complicated as this may seem, Representative Cooper supports finding a way to give more of these interpreters access to the Special Immigrant Visas.

"Well I would first get our military to vouch for the interpreters,” Representative Cooper said.  “Then I would do everything humanly possible to keep those interpreters safe."

By Josh Roe

The Price Of Freedom: Tennessee Lawmaker Discusses Helping Iraqi Allies

Wednesday, December 4 2013, 06:38 PM EST

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