We are No One Left Behind - a Veteran run nonprofit helping military interpreters who have been threatened for their service. President Trump just banned our clients. Ask Us Anything!
Hi folks! We are the team at No One Left Behind, a nonprofit serving Afghan and Iraqi interpreters who worked for the US military overseas in combat zones. We were founded by Matt Zeller, an Army veteran who is alive today because his translator, Janis, shot and killed two Taliban fighters in a firefight who otherwise would have killed Matt. This has always been a bipartisan issue and we are hoping to get an exemption before more lives are lost.
With yesterday’s Executive Order, the President has shut the door on thousands of foreign interpreters, our wartime allies, who served alongside our military since 2001. By enacting a four-month ban on ALL immigration of refugees, thousands of our Afghan and Iraqi wartime allies will be left to languish and fend for themselves against the very enemies we asked them to help us fight.
The Special Immigration Visa (SIV) program is considered a refugee program. The Afghans and Iraqis we allow to immigrate via this program count against the annual US immigration CAP. The blanket ban on immigration prevents these allies from reaching safety here in America.
A ban on Iraqi refugees leaves countless thousands to be hunted for their service to the United States. We now fail to keep our country’s promise to these Iraqi allies who've waited patiently for years for their visas. When ISIS and the Taliban find our clients, they torture and kill them and film their deaths as proof that America does not keep its promises.
If we commit to this, we will permanently harmed our national security. Our credibility will be forever neutered if not eroded. Why would any potential ally ever trust America to keep its word again? US soldiers will now die in future wars because we couldn't recruit the local support that is often the difference between life and death.
Moreover, this action imposes a lifetime moral injury on our Afghan and Iraq war veterans. Vietnam Veterans speak often of their half-century injury at having abandoned so many of our Vietnamese allies. Today, the President has cast the same injury onto the newest generation of American veterans.
For bios for our entire team, please visit:
Primary people responding to questions are:
Matt Zeller, Co-Founder
He is a Truman National Security Fellow and an adjunct fellow at the American Security Project. He is also the author of Watches Without Time (Just World Books, 2012), which chronicles his experience serving as an embedded combat adviser with the Afghan security forces in Ghazni, Afghanistan, in 2008. Matt received a Purple Heart for his service in Afghanistan and is a former security analyst at the CIA.
Jason Gorey, COO
Jason has more than a decade of diverse national security experience in both the public and private sectors, with specific focuses on intelligence, cyber security, foreign policy, and the defense industrial base. Mr. Gorey has held a career human intelligence position at the Defense Intelligence Agency and was appointed by the White House as a Senior Foreign Affairs Officer at the Department of State. As a military officer, Mr. Gorey is now a Defense Attaché (Reserves) assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency. Previously, he served as an Intelligence Officer assigned to 1st Information Operations Command (Land) and deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan with RCERT-SWA. Jason is also a proud Conservative and Trump supporter.
Mica Varga, Director of Resettlement Operations
She started working with refugee when she was 17 and is focused on much of the day to day resettlement tasks.
We will also likely have participation from some of our Afghan and Iraqi interpreters. Feel free to write questions specific for them as well, and we will let you know the background of the relevant interpreters. However, depending on the interpreter we will likely only identify them by their first name for safety (especially if they are currently in hiding in Iraq or Afghanistan.)
Please, ask us anything! Ask us about our military service, ask us about the executive order, ask us about refugee resettlement…….We intend to keep this going all weekend (you have no idea how little we sleep...)
Want to help?
Contact your Congressmen: http://nooneleft.org/saveourterps/
Sign our petition asking that the executive order provide an exception for our vetted military allies: https://www.change.org/p/exempt-wartime-interpreters-from-president-trump-s-executive-order-banning-immigration
Articles about the Executive Order:
New York Times - https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/28/us/refugees-detained-at-us-airports-prompting-legal-challenges-to-trumps-immigration-order.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=0
Edit 6:30 PM EST: I'm running to a vigil and will return in two hours or so. I will pick up with questions then!
Edit 1:15 AM EST: Ok so we have been stuck at the vigil in Dulles for much longer than anticipated. Senator Corey Booker showed up after the authorities did not comply with a federal order as well as an order by the state of Virginia. All interpreters, refugees, and immigrants from "banned" countries are supposed to be released soon. I will try to catch up with questions via my phone in the meantime.