WXXI AM News

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

Nov 11, 2019

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