Obama passes visa law for Iraqi aides to American forces

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U.S. President Barack Obama passed a special visa law on Friday allowing Iraqis who aided the U.S. forces during the war on Iraq to enter the United States.

A special program was launched in the worst year of the Iraqi war, where Iraqi aides of the U.S. forces were facing death threats and killings.

Since 2007, the program allowed over 120,000 Iraqi contractors, interpreters and other aides, to move to the United States. It expired earlier this week with 2,000 pending applications.

In a rare moment of harmony, both chambers of the Congress passed the new law within hours earlier this week.

The Senate passed the extension on Monday night and the House approved it on Wednesday night, sending it back for the Senate’s final approval on Thursday.

“These are the interpreters, the guides, drivers, people who performed a myriad of functions that were essential for American operations,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat who introduced the first legislation on the program six years ago, told Reuters news agency on Friday.

“Last night, the United States sent a signal that we are not going to leave them behind,” he said on the House floor.

(With the Associated Press and Reuters)