Veterans protest travel ban, saying it hurts interpreters - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Veterans protest travel ban, saying it hurts interpreters

Posted: Updated:
SAN DIEGO, Calif. -

U.S. combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan say they are outraged at the temporary ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and the suspension of the U.S. refugee program that has blocked visas for interpreters who risked their lives to help American troops on the battlefield.
    
Thousands of veterans have signed petitions. One soldier says he has bought a plane ticket for his Afghan translator in case that country is added to the list of banned nations.
    
Many veterans say they feel betrayed by the executive order that President Donald Trump signed Friday that suspends the admission of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days and all Syrian refugees indefinitely.
    
They say the fight feels personal since they gave their word to people who aided American troops that the United States would protect them and their families.
    
"This administration just made me a liar in a very significant way and I'm not willing to accept this," said Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran Michael Breen, president and CEO of the Truman National Security Project, a Washington-based nonprofit think tank.
    
The Pentagon is compiling the names of Iraqis who have supported U.S. and coalition personnel to help exempt them from the 90-day immigration ban.
    
The list will include those who have tangibly demonstrated their commitment to supporting U.S. forces, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said. It will contain several categories of people, such as translators, drivers and Iraqi forces who may be training in the U.S.
    
California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, a combat Marine veteran who endorsed Trump's presidential campaign, sent the president a bipartisan letter signed by other lawmakers who served in the military, expressing support for the exemption list.
    
"Doing so would send a strong signal to those who show such immense courage to advance U.S. security interests at a risk to their own safety, as well as the many veterans and warfighters who've relied on the service of these individuals for their own protection and to accomplish their objectives," the letter states.
    
His spokesman, Joe Kasper, said Hunter supports the intent of the travel ban but questions how it was executed.
    
Veterans who have been aiding translators say it would be difficult to get everyone on the list.
    
What's more, they say the ban sends a message to Iraqi soldiers and others in countries who are working with U.S. forces that the United States does not want them.
    
"Not only is this executive order a death sentence for Iraqis and Afghans who have served faithfully alongside U.S. troops, but it feels like a death sentence for our service members who are in the Middle East," said former Army Capt. Matt Zeller, who runs the nonprofit No One Left Behind, an organization working to get interpreters from Iraq and Afghanistan to the United States.
    
"I'm only alive because my Afghan Muslim translator saved my life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill me in battle," he said.
    
Zeller said that's why he grabbed the American flag that flew over his base in Afghanistan and waved it outside the White House this weekend, joining thousands of protesters who demanded an immediate end to the travel ban.
    
Afghanistan is not among the seven countries on the ban list, but suspension of the refugee program is affecting Afghan translators who have been given special immigrant visas for helping U.S. troops.
    
Zeller said two Afghan translators have had their flights cancelled since Friday's order. The interpreters waited for years to get the visas, going through a lengthy vetting process and now have been left in limbo, he said.
    
Zeller said those who receive the special immigrant visas are being told they have to pay their own way to the United States. In the past they received financial assistance and had to pay it back.
    
Army Capt. Matthew Ball said his interpreter Qismat Amin, who has been living in hiding after getting threats from Taliban and Islamic state fighters, got his visa Sunday, after nearly four years of interviews. Ball bought him a $1,000 plane ticket to San Francisco and plans to meet him at the airport with an attorney.
    
"The ban is terrible. It's terrible for what it says about our country. It's terrible for what it says to our allies who we fight with overseas. It's terrible for what it does to real people, struggling to flee terrorism in their home countries, who now have nowhere to go," said Ball, who now serves in the Reserves.
    
Amin, who talked to The Associated Press by phone, said he had mixed feelings.
    
"I feel kind of hesitant to be honest," he said. "I'm hopeful it's going to be OK. I've never been out of my country, so I don't know the rules, and I've been watching the news. I'm a Muslim and there are different stories saying the United States is banning Muslims, banning immigrants. I'm immigrant plus I'm Muslim, so I don't know."
    
"I'm very excited at the moment right now and kind of terrified," he said.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Spokane almost dead last on Washington's safest cities list

    Spokane almost dead last on Washington's safest cities list

    Tuesday, February 20 2018 1:27 PM EST2018-02-20 18:27:47 GMT

    KHQ.COM - The National Council for Home Safety and Security has released the safest cities in Washington for 2018... and Spokane did not impress. To determine the order of the ranking the Council used data on the number of reported violent crimes and property crimes for every thousand people and also reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime report. Spokane ranked almost dead last coming in at number 79 (there were only 80 cities on the list).

    >>

    KHQ.COM - The National Council for Home Safety and Security has released the safest cities in Washington for 2018... and Spokane did not impress. To determine the order of the ranking the Council used data on the number of reported violent crimes and property crimes for every thousand people and also reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime report. Spokane ranked almost dead last coming in at number 79 (there were only 80 cities on the list).

    >>
  • Managers of Spokane Valley motel, 6 others arrested on drug and property crime charges following two-month investigation

    Managers of Spokane Valley motel, 6 others arrested on drug and property crime charges following two-month investigation

    Tuesday, February 20 2018 6:06 PM EST2018-02-20 23:06:06 GMT

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - A two-month investigation into criminal activity at the Red Top Motel in Spokane Valley resulted in a massive raid and the arrest of 8 people early Tuesday morning. The Red Top Motel has had more than 100 calls for service since the beginning of the year, with many of those calls resulting in the arrest of known criminals who commonly traffic in drugs and stolen property.

    >>

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - A two-month investigation into criminal activity at the Red Top Motel in Spokane Valley resulted in a massive raid and the arrest of 8 people early Tuesday morning. The Red Top Motel has had more than 100 calls for service since the beginning of the year, with many of those calls resulting in the arrest of known criminals who commonly traffic in drugs and stolen property.

    >>
  • Four-year-old fighting for his life after flu hospitalization

    Four-year-old fighting for his life after flu hospitalization

    Tuesday, February 20 2018 8:50 PM EST2018-02-21 01:50:10 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Randall and Jill Kimberling didn’t think it would happen to their child. But on February 4 their four-year-old son, Levi, started to fill ill. “We were the parents who looked at him and said ‘that wouldn’t happen to our child. He’s super healthy and super energetic’,” said Randall. “To watch him lay there and not move is hard.” By February 5, Levi’s fever reached 99 degrees. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Randall and Jill Kimberling didn’t think it would happen to their child. But on February 4 their four-year-old son, Levi, started to fill ill. “We were the parents who looked at him and said ‘that wouldn’t happen to our child. He’s super healthy and super energetic’,” said Randall. “To watch him lay there and not move is hard.” By February 5, Levi’s fever reached 99 degrees. 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Jay-Z reportedly spent over $91,000 at one bar in one night

    Jay-Z reportedly spent over $91,000 at one bar in one night

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 10:13 AM EST2018-02-21 15:13:15 GMT

    KHQ.COM - When you party with Jay-Z, just make sure you don't get stuck with the bill.  During a night out in Manhattan, he reportedly racked up a tab totaling $91,135 (tip included) at one bar! How much of that was a tip?  $11,100! Which means his server Dayhana is probably the most grateful the rapper chose to celebrate at the Playroom Lounge in NYC.

    >>

    KHQ.COM - When you party with Jay-Z, just make sure you don't get stuck with the bill.  During a night out in Manhattan, he reportedly racked up a tab totaling $91,135 (tip included) at one bar! How much of that was a tip?  $11,100! Which means his server Dayhana is probably the most grateful the rapper chose to celebrate at the Playroom Lounge in NYC.

    >>
  • Student's plot for mass shooting at California high school thwarted

    Student's plot for mass shooting at California high school thwarted

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 9:40 AM EST2018-02-21 14:40:02 GMT

    WHITTIER, Calif. (AP) - Authorities say they've thwarted a student's plot for a mass shooting at a Southern California high school.    The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says Tuesday that a security guard at El Camino High School in Whittier overhead a "disgruntled student" threaten to open fire on the school on Friday, just two days after 17 people were gunned down at a Florida high school.

    >>

    WHITTIER, Calif. (AP) - Authorities say they've thwarted a student's plot for a mass shooting at a Southern California high school.    The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says Tuesday that a security guard at El Camino High School in Whittier overhead a "disgruntled student" threaten to open fire on the school on Friday, just two days after 17 people were gunned down at a Florida high school.

    >>
  • Spokesman: Evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham has died at his home in North Carolina at age 99

    Spokesman: Evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham has died at his home in North Carolina at age 99

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 8:34 AM EST2018-02-21 13:34:53 GMT

    MONTREAT, N.C. - The Rev. Billy Graham, counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, has died at age 99. Spokesman Mark DeMoss tell The Associated Press that Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat, North Carolina. He had been treated in recent years for cancer, pneumonia and other ailments.

    >>

    MONTREAT, N.C. - The Rev. Billy Graham, counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, has died at age 99. Spokesman Mark DeMoss tell The Associated Press that Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat, North Carolina. He had been treated in recent years for cancer, pneumonia and other ailments.

    >>