Hastings Hosts Film Screening of The List and Discussion of the Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa Program Backlog
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) released the following statement after hosting a screening and discussion of The List. The film documents the efforts of Kirk Johnson, a former employee of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) mission in Iraq and founder of The List Project. Kirk Johnson and film Director Beth Murphy joined Congressman Hastings at the screening for a discussion of the Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa Program backlog.
“The United States completed its military withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011, and for many the conflict is quickly fading from memory. However, for the tens of thousands of Iraqis who risked their lives assisting American forces, everyday life remains perilous. Iraqi citizens were vital to the success of the U.S. mission. Now, their lives – and the lives of their loved ones – are constantly in danger.
“Since 2007, Kirk has worked tirelessly to bring greater attention to the plight of our Iraqi allies who remain in harm’s way. He has succeeded in resettling nearly 1,500 Iraqis who fled their country out of fear or violence, and his list continues to grow. I am proud of the work he has done and honored to welcome him to the capitol today for this important discussion.
“A mere 7,000 Special Immigrant Visas have been awarded and 18,000 remain unclaimed. I am pleased that the program was recently extended through December 2013, and hope the backlog in claims can be thoroughly addressed during this time. As we accelerate in our withdrawal from Afghanistan, the interpreters who aided our troops there face the same nightmares as our allies in Iraq. The situation will only grow more urgent in the coming months, and we must remain committed to protecting our friends in the region that are now in danger.”
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that roughly 70,000 Iraqis worked for U.S. government agencies or their contractors in Iraq as of August 2008. The Department of Defense (DOD) estimates that over 36,000 Iraqis worked with American forces in 2009.
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.