Dan has asked that bloggers supporting Iraqi interpreters publish any reply from their MP.
I meant to update my previous post on this, but have slackening on the blogging front recently. Here’s that reply in full from my suddenly-quite-communicative MP (dated 24 July, received 28 July):
Thank you for your e-mail that I received today regarding the plight of Iraqi translators who have been refused asylum in the UK.
I have written to the Government asking them to address this issue as a matter of urgency. As soon as I receive a reply, I will write to you again.
I would wager that, after she gets back from the holiday that was so rudely interrupted by foot and mouth, she’ll read a reply that’s not too far from the already-published response that’s been refuted by John Barrett.
The current government line is that asylum applications are considered on ‘an individual basis’. In other words, the UK has taken the same position as Australia on this; no ‘special treatment’ for Iraqi interpreters (regardless of our role in their exceptional circumstances). There’s also noise about verification of identity leading to delays, but surely there’s already paperwork that verifies their identity… it’s not as if we’ve bombed Iraq into the stone-a*…
Hang on, let me start that bit again…
If, at the very least, the estimate of those who worked for us is 700 and the number of people claiming asylum on the basis that they worked for us [*bang*] is 699, then it’s fair to say [*boom*] that those 698 people are likely to have a valid claim. So why not make special arrangements [*rat-at-at-at*] for these 697 individuals and their families immediately and take things from there? Or are we waiting for a more manageable number [*kaboom*] to present itself?
Speaking of manageable numbers…
The Americans, bless ’em, introduced a Special Translator Immigration Program to deal with this problem. As you may have guessed, they employed many more translators and/or interpreters than we did…. but before you click this link, see if you can guess what the upper limit is for visas issued per fiscal year for applicants under this scheme from Iraq and Afghanistan. Is it..
PS – Sign here, please. Then pass it on.
UPDATE – Times – Abandoned – the 91 Iraqis who risked all: The Times has learnt that the Government has ignored personal appeals from senior army officers in Basra to relax asylum regulations and make special arrangements for Iraqis whose loyal services have put their lives at risk. One interpreter, who has worked with the Army since 2004 and wanted to start a new life in Britain after British Forces pull out was told by Downing Street that he would receive no special favours and to read a government website. (via)