Representative Peter Welch (VT) was moved after visiting Iraq in 2007, and becoming aware not only of the dedicated service of Iraqi translators, but of the active danger they now faced.
Welch is determined to advocate for the protection of interpreters in Congress. He has introduced a bill in the House and has invited Ahmed Alsaeedi, a former Iraqi interpreter, to join him at Trump’s address to Congress on Tuesday evening, Feb. 28th.
“We want him to be there as a witness, a living example, of a person that we not only want to come to the United States but we have an obligation to protect,” Rep. Welch said. “They protected our soldiers, we’ve got to protect them.” Welch also wants to expand protections to intelligence analysts, engineers and drivers who served the U.S. in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Alsaeedi now lives in Burlington and works with Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program. He was a key player in helping two Syrian families resettle in Rutland, VT.
“I really love it,” Alsaeedi said, referring to Vermont. “It is very beautiful. The people are very nice, very welcoming, very open-minded.”
Alsaeedi would have been banned from entering the United States if he had been attempting to travel during President Trump’s recent Executive Order.
“I always wanted to come to the United States since I was a kid, because I always knew the U.S. was different,” he said. “It’s a welcoming country, and it’s a country of immigrants. My hope is that it’s just a phase that will go away.”
Photo Credit: Rep. Welch’s office