Should Iraqi interpreters be entitled to US citizenship?



The propaganda organs spun furiously into action the minute President Trump's new policies on immigration took effect. The media quickly looked for the most virtuous examples of foreigners who were denied entrance into the United States. An Iranian scientist studying heart disease? Check. A Ph. D. student studying at Yale? Check. (Though the student, somewhat suspiciously, had just been heading to Afghanistan for "ethnographic" studies!).

What about unattached, military aged young men from Syria who had no paper trail? No profile for one of those! What about the Hijabi bringing in three children and pregnant with a fourth who would immediately become an American citizen? No profile of her either.

The media's attention was elsewhere. The most virtuous example the media came up with was an Iraqi interpreter who had worked with US armed forces who was emigrating to America with his family. He was moving to America because of "death threats".

Hameed Khaldi Darweesh, who worked a translator for American forces for 10 years, had been detained overnight following his arrival from Istanbul. He said he had feared he would be sent back to Iraq, which his family fled because of death threats.

Don't worry, Hameed was released into America after a few hours! But it does raise the question, does working with armed forces in Iraq entitle one to American citizenship?

Some say yes, because people like Hameed helped American forces. But actually, isn't it American forces who helped Hameed, not the other way around? Wasn't it Americans who came to his country to fight Hameed's war for him? Given that, wasn't Hameed merely helping Americans help his own country, and wasn't that the least he could do, given that Americans were risking their lives for Hameed's family and his country? In that sense, isn't it Hameed who owes America something, rather than the other way around?

Hameed claims he wants to move to America because of "death threats". Iraq is not Vietnam. We did not pull out leaving a hostile government in power which imprisoned anyone who worked for us. In fact the Iraqi government is supposed to be our ally. While ISIS controls part of the country in the northwest, if Hameed lived in one of those areas he could move to one of the many parts of the country controlled by the government.

Consider that American soldiers are still in Iraq, today, in 2017, fighting for Iraq while Hameed flees his own country. Hameed should go back and fight for his own country. Aiding Americans who are risking their lives for a foreign country should not be a golden ticket to American citizenship.

[originally published in AT]



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