Mariesa Bergin, Reporter, @Riesajb
A petition created by Mary Rollins, a UVU student, has gathered more than 8,000 signatures. Rollins hopes that the petition will help her Afghan husband secure a visa, and reunite their family in the United States.
Rollins was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 with the Utah Army National Guard. During her military service she met her husband, a native Afghan who has been interpreting for American soldiers since 2004.
After Rollins left Afghanistan, the two remained friends and communicated through telephone calls and Skype for two years. In October 2011, Maryann finally flew to Afghanistan to marry her sweetheart.
They arranged all of the paperwork in advance to prepare her husband to immigrate to the United States and become a citizen following their marriage.
“I was hoping he would be here within 9 months because we planned to have a baby,” said Rollins as she looked longingly at her son. “We became pregnant while I was in Afghanistan for our wedding.”
Her husband did not come home, he was held in Afghanistan for further administrative processing of his visa application. The U.S. Department of State reports that “most administrative processing issues are resolved within 60 days of the interview.
The Rollins family has now been waiting 8 months since their visa interview. They have called, they have even had Senator Hatch call, and all they are given is the ambiguous response that it is still in ‘administrative processing’.
They are not alone. This year only 58 visas have been given to Afghan interpreters, according to a government report on Special Immigrant Visas. In 2012, 110 visas were offered to Afghan interpreters as compared to 422 in 2008.
Families and sponsors throughout the country are raising their voices, and asking others to do the same. An estimated 8,000 interpreters have aided the U.S. military in translation in the Middle East, putting their lives at risk. Rollins was unable to share the name of her husband because the nature of his work would make him a target for Taliban retaliation.
Recently, an interpreter spent years working through bureaucratic tape and finally received a visa, only to have it revoked two weeks later. The interpreter, Janis Shinwary, was given no clarification as to why his visa was revoked, according to report by Fox News
Shinnwary has received death threats and has gone into hiding, but he still has no idea when his visa complications will be resolved.
“Every interpreter who helps our military in Afghanistan is risking their life for our country. However, the processing of their visas is incredibly slow due to bureaucratic inefficiency,” Rollins said on the landing page for her husband’s petition.
To sign the petition and bring Ryhan’s Dad home, visit: http://www.change.org/bringryhansdadhome
Photo: Laura Fox