Published 2013-02-26

Letter to US Government (signed by AIIC, FIT, Red T, and IAPTI)

Translators and

February 2013
The Honorable
Janet Napolitano
U.S. Department of
Homeland Security
Washington, D.C.

Overly Broad "Terrorism Bars"
Put the Lives of
Host-Nation Linguists at Risk

Dear Madam
On behalf of the
International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), the International
Federation of Translators (FIT), the International Association of Professional
Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI), and Red T, a U.S.-based non-profit
organization dedicated to the protection of translators and interpreters in
high-risk settings, we would like to bring to your attention the fact that many
Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applications of U.S.-affiliated Afghan and Iraqi
linguists are stalled indefinitely or wrongly rejected on the grounds of
terrorism-related inadmissibility.

In response to
overly broad revisions to the definition of "terrorist activity" and "terrorist
organization," the U.S. Congress has amended the immigration law to expand your
agency’s authority to grant exemptions in such cases. We respectfully request
that your agency implement this waiver authority and establish a protocol to
effectively assist the Afghan and Iraqi linguists who, under the current
statute, may fall under these terrorism bars.

The U.S. Armed Forces
have relied on Afghan and Iraqi translators and interpreters since the
beginning of the wars in 2001 and 2003, respectively. Thousands of these
individuals have risked their lives to provide crucial linguistic and cultural
services without which the missions could not have been conducted. However,
they are labeled traitors by their communities for working with U.S. troops and
are often unable to return home for fear of being killed. Some of them find
themselves in the paradoxical situation of still being employed by the U.S.
military, while at the same time denied entry to the United States based on
prior Tier III group affiliations as defined by the Patriot Act.

The application of
sweeping terrorism bars to host-nation linguists creates a deep sense of
betrayal among those who faithfully stood by the United States yet now find
themselves ensnared by these provisions. We urge you to address this issue; the
fate of these linguists is the subject of international concern, including
ours, as colleagues in the language professions.


Linda Fitchett – President, AIIC

Marion Boers – President, FIT

Aurora HumarĂ¡n – President, IAPTI

Maya Hess – President, Red T

Association of Conference Interpreters, 46, avenue Blanc, CH-1202 Geneva,
Switzerland International

Federation of
Translators, Aeschenvorstadt 71, CH-4051 Basel, Switzerland
Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters, Tucuman 1429,
C1050AAC, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Red T, 477 West 22
Street, New York, NY 10011, United States of America