Reps. Hunter and Kinzinger lead letter to President in support of Secretary Mattis’ exemption requests

Jan 30, 2017 Issues: Immigration, National Security, Veterans
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) sent a bipartisan letter to President Trump in support of the request by Secretary of Defense James Mattis to exempt Iraqis who served alongside our military. The letter expands on the need for a special review process for those who directly supported American personnel overseas. Upon sending the letter, Reps. Kinzinger and Hunter, both veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, released the following joint statement:
 
“We made a promise to the men and women who served alongside us on the battlefield, and we must uphold that promise to leave no man behind. We urge the President to honor Secretary Mattis’ requests, and stand up for those who stood by our military and American personnel. For the safety of these courageous individuals and their families, and in the interest of our national security, it’s critical that we make this exception and do so swiftly.”
 
The full text of the letter is below: 
 
Dear Mr. President:
            
With regard to your executive order to temporarily halt immigration originating from specified countries, we want to register our strong support for the request of Secretary of Defense James Mattis to exempt military interpreters, aides and other allies who risked their lives alongside U.S. personnel in Iraq.  Congress established the Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program in 2008 and we are acutely aware of the significant contribution of these individuals in support of America’s global campaign against radical terrorism.  
 
These allies risked their own lives, as well as the well-being of their families, to advance America’s security interests in a region where their skillsets and willingness to confront extremism have been invaluable to mission success.  We are concerned that, with specific application to individuals who worked with the U.S. Government on the ground, certain immigrants deserving prompt consideration are likely to be overlooked. We encourage you to make special consideration in the review process for these individuals, who are certain to face threats to their own lives as part of the broader pause in refugee and immigrant admissions. 
 
It is important that a special exception is made for the consideration of individuals who directly supported American personnel overseas.  We respectfully ask that you take this action to ensure these individuals are not put in any further danger.  Doing so would send a strong signal to those who show such immense courage to advance U.S. security interests at a risk to their own safety, as well as the many veterans and warfighters who’ve relied on the service of these individuals for their own protection and to accomplish their objectives.      
 
In addition to Kinzinger and Hunter, other Members of Congress who signed on to this letter include: Reps. Steve Stivers (R-OH), Earl Blumenauer (D-PA), Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Peter Welch (D-VT).