Over a year ago the government of Canada promised to fast-track immigration paperwork for translators who worked in Afghanistan but only 50 have been approved so far, and they still await medical and security screenings.
Over 200 people have applied but Canadian immigration officials say that they only expect about 50 more translators to qualify by the time the program ends next summer.
The requirements for the program are a recommendation from a high-ranking Canadian soldier or diplomat, as well as 12 months of supporting Canada’s mission in Afghanistan while proving they’ve faced extreme dangers related to their work with Canadians.
Melanie Carkner, a spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, told the Toronto Sun this week that, “as a result of our reviews, close to 50 applicants are now moving forward in the immigration process. Should they all pass security, criminality and health screening, they will be accompanied to Canada by some 75 eligible family members, wives and all dependent children,” she said, “Canada still expects that approximately 50 principal applicants plus an average of two family members totaling 100 people will be eligible each year.”
The Afghan translators assist Canadian soldiers in communicating with locals in war-torn Afghanistan, an extremely important service that puts their lives at risk. Canada should be keeping their word with the translators, and NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow says she will be bringing up the issue later this month when the House of Commons resumes.
“Judging from the statistics so far, it’s not fast-track. In fact, there’s no track whatsoever for the majority of the Afghan interpreters, leaving them no hope and in dangerous situations,” she said.
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