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Raskin Leads Bipartisan Demand For Answers About Visas For Translators Who Assisted U.S. Troops Overseas

February 15, 2019
Press Release
Representatives Highlight Case of Afghan Translator Muhammad Kamran Who Was Denied Refugee Status

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD), joined by Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Michael Waltz (R-FL), wrote Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen seeking further information about Muhammad Kamran and his family, which includes four young daughters. Kamran is an Afghan national who served as an interpreter for U.S. forces in Afghanistan and was denied refugee status by the United States for unspecified “security concerns.”

The Members wrote:

“We will reiterate that Mr. Kamran is an Afghan national who served as an interpreter for nearly a decade for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, DAI under the U.S. Agency for International Development, and later the United Nations. He was targeted for assassination by the Taliban and subsequently fled to Pakistan where he remains in hiding with his wife and daughters.” 

The letter follows a July 2018 letter led by Reps. Raskin and Jeff Denham (R-CA) with 38 bipartisan cosigners to Secretary Nielsen about the Kamran case and the precipitous drop-off in visas for interpreters and translators who acted to help U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The response from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee Cissna, who wrote that Secretary Nielsen asked him to respond on her behalf, failed to adequately address the Members’ questions, concerns, and requests for basic information. 

In a December 2018 House Judiciary Committee hearing, Rep. Raskin questioned Secretary Nielsen about the slow and hostile processing of Special Immigrant Visas (SIV), which Kamran could have applied for he had not been forced to flee Afghanistan after his family was targeted for assassination by the Taliban.

“We have waited more than six months for a response from DHS to our inquiry. It has been nearly two months since you testified at the oversight hearing before the House Judiciary Committee that you would brief us on this matter.  This delay is becoming untenable.”

“The lives of the Kamran family, including four young girls, are at imminent risk.  We can now only conclude that the Department of Homeland Security is stonewalling us by failing to provide any information as to why the Kamran family, including four young children, has been denied humanitarian parole considering the service provided to this country by Mr. Kamran.”

The text of the letter may be viewed here.