DOD Compiling List of Iraqi Employees to Exempt From Travel Ban

The Defense Department is compiling a list of translators and other Iraqi employees who have worked alongside the US military in a push to have them exempted from Friday’s travel ban announced by the Trump Administration. President Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq. The Pentagon said Monday that there are thousands of Iraqis who have worked for the US, including as translators in military units. The military will recommend that these employees, once vetted, be exempted from the ban, according to the Associated Press. The executive order, which was signed at the same ceremony where Defense Secretary James Mattis was ceremoniously sworn in, bans travel into the US by people from Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya for 90 days. On Monday, the Iraqi Parliament approved a “reciprocity” measure to block Americans from entering Iraq, including journalists and contractors, the AP reported. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) released a joint statement on Jan. 29 condemning the decision, which they said was made without consulting the Defense Department, Department of State, Department of Justice, or Homeland Security. “Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies,” said McCain and Graham. “Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”