The U.S. military depends on the help of local Iraqis — but Trump has barred almost all Iraqi refugees from entering America.
The Pentagon is alarmed at just how few Iraqis the Trump administration is granting refugee status to — including Iraqis who have provided crucial aid to U.S. troops by acting as interpreters and performing other key tasks.
Military officials are concerned that denying safe harbor to these Iraqis "will harm national security by dissuading locals from cooperating with the United States in Iraq and other conflict zones," Reuters reports.
In practice, Trump's harsh policies have blocked almost all Iraqi refugees from coming to America.
The number of Iraqis admitted to the U.S. under a special refugee program has plummeted dramatically — from more than 3,000 last year and 5,100 in 2016, to just 48 who have been admitted as of Aug. 15 this fiscal year.
Fewer than 50 Iraqi refugees have been admitted in 2018 under a program that more than 100,000 Iraqis have applied for. The program offers safe harbor to Iraqis who worked for the U.S. government, American contractors, the news media, or non-governmental groups.
Cooperation from locals has been essential to advance U.S. military goals in Iraq, especially since President George W. Bush's disastrous invasion 15 years ago.
Iraqis who worked for U.S. interests took a huge risk to do so, Reuters points out: "Hundreds of them have been killed, wounded, abducted or threatened because of their work and face continued danger inside Iraq from armed militias opposed to the United States."
And in return for all that risk and sacrifice, the Trump administration is simply turning its back.
Right after being sworn into office, Trump tried to fulfill his campaign promise of "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" by instituting a ban on travel to the U.S. from Muslim-majority countries, and halting the United States refugee resettlement program. After that ban was struck down by the courts, Trump signed a second executive order months later, parts of which the Supreme Court let stand.
Then Trump signed an executive order in October reinstating refugee admissions — but placed 11 countries into a special, stricter category for the application process. Iraq is one of those countries, along with Egypt, Iran, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
Last year, Trump also lowered the U.S.'s annual admitted refugee ceiling to 45,000, which is the lowest since 1980.
Even worse, as of today, the U.S. is on pace to welcome just 22,000 refugees for the entire year.
With these harsher restrictions, Trump has decided to abandon thousands of brave Iraqis who put their lives at risk to help U.S. soldiers.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.