NEW YORK – As the dire situation in Afghanistan continues as the Taliban continues its take over, a U.S. Marine veteran who lives in New Jersey is trying to do everything in his power to bring his Afghan translator safely to the United States — but he’s facing difficulty, as thousands of Special Immigrant Visas are backlogged.
Corporal Caleb Taylor first met his Afghan interpreter, who will anonymously be referred to as “NB,” in 2011.
“NB, as soon as he became an interpreter, he knew full well that he had to worry about the safety of his family,” Taylor said. “Not just the immediate term while he’s working, but in perpetuity.”
As the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan, 30-year-old NB is in hiding with his 24-year-old wife and 8-month-old child. It’s the only choice he has; his extended family has already been targeted.
“His brother-in-law and his sister were both kidnapped by the Taliban,” Taylor said. “The sister was let go, but the brother-in-law was murdered, and they were never able to recover the body.”
Taylor has been working diligently for the last year and a half to get NB’s SIV, but the approval has never been more urgent than it is now, as the August 31st deadline to withdraw U.S. troops approaches.
“It’s terrifying,” Taylor said. “I’m doing everything I can on my end and I’m pushing as much information as I can, and putting him on as many lists as I can, and following up about his visa, and doing everything I can on my end — but there’s ultimately nothing that I can do.”
The SIV program was created to protect foreign allies who risk their lives helping U.S. troops, but it’s been backlogged with tens of thousands of applicants since 2009.
NB was most recently working as an engineer, and his wife as a doctor, but they know a future in Afghanistan — especially with their infant — is no future at all under the Taliban.
“NB is an incredible being,” Taylor added. “He’s a phenomenal man and we’re lucky to have worked with him. He gave us everything he had the entire time we were there at great personal risk. It was a very dangerous area of operations. He never complained, he always went out on patrol with us, and because of him, we were very effective and very successful.”
Taylor is calling on everyone he knows to put pressure on their local representatives to put more resources into the SIV program to effectively bring more people home from Afghanistan.