President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order this week to temporarily ban immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.
One North Texas veteran hopes the president would reconsider the ban or the sake of translators who worked with the military in Iraq who hope to immigrate to the U.S. because their lives are in danger in their home country.
The Army captain says one of the translators who helped him during the invasion of Fallujah is being persecuted for working with the U.S. military. The translator is in hiding in the Middle East in the process of immigrating to the U.S. But for now, all of that is in limbo.
As a U.S. Army captain fighting in the war in Iraq in 2003, Allan Vaught says he leaned heavily on the help of local translators including a man he calls “Sam.”
“We considered him very much a brother alongside the U.S. troops there,” he said.
But as the troop withdrawal wound down, Vaught says Sam's life was threatened for working with Americans.
In December, FOX4 reported on Vaught's efforts to petition the White House on behalf of Sam. A few days later, Sam got an immigration hearing with a promise of a follow-up. It seemed like they were making progress until now, with word President Trump will sign an order temporarily banning the issuance of visas from Iraq.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the move is needed to protect the U.S. from terrorist attacks.
But in a draft of an order Dallas immigration attorney Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez reviewed, there is no exception for the Iraqi translators already in the pipeline.
“I'm not sure if that they're aware of all the consequences, whether they're intended or non-intended consequences,” Saenz-Rodriguez said. “It is so broad and far-reaching, it’s going to reach a vast variety of people coming to seek protection in the United States.”
Vaught tweeted at the president and asked him to reconsider and take into account Sam's story.
“How else could you vet someone any better than when they serve alongside you and IEDs are going off and RPGs are flying in and you're paying them five dollars a week and they're staying with you?” Vaught said. “I mean, how can you better vet someone?”
Even though the orders would be temporary, Vaught says Sam's position gets precarious day by day.
Vaught says Sam stayed in Iraq too long to apply for visa under an SIV program that stopped taking applications in 2014. But there are nearly 500 translators who did apply and are still waiting to find out if they will get a visa, according to the state department's most recently published numbers last year.