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Connections

Connections: Afghani interpreters who served the U.S. military share their stories

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On this Veterans Day, we talk with refugees who served the U.S. military as interpreters in Afghanistan and Iraq, and who have come to America on Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). By law, the SIV process should take no more than nine months, but bureaucracy and backlogs have forced candidates to wait for years. For many interpreters, an SIV is a matter of life and death: interpreters who served with U.S. forces are considered traitors by the Taliban.

This hour, our guests share the challenges they and their families have faced in coming to America. We also preview a film about SIVs called "The Interpreters" that will air tonight on WXXI-TV. In studio:

  • Mujtaba Haidar , Afghani interpreter for the U.S. military who came to America on a Special Immigrant Visa
  • Javayd Samadie. Afghani interpreter for the U.S. military who came to America on a Special Immigrant Visa
  • Ellen Smith, director of Keeping Our Promise, a program of Refugees Helping Refugees

Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.