An Afghan interpreter and San Diego resident who worked with the U.S. Military abroad is speaking out about President Donald Trump's temporary ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Lucky, an Afghan interpreter who worked with the U.S. military overseas, said he risked everything working with the U.S. in combat zones.
In the days following the executive order, he and others, including many U.S. combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, voiced strong opposition to the temporary ban, which has blocked visas for Iraqi interpreters who risked their lives to help American troops on the battlefield.
Thousands of veterans have signed petitions. Many veterans say they feel betrayed by the executive order signed Friday, which also suspends the admission of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days and all Syrian refugees indefinitely.
Some veterans say the fight feels personal because they gave their word to people who aided American troops that the United States would protect them and their families.
In an interview with NBC 7 San Diego, Lucky said that he decided to work with the U.S. in hopes of building a better future for his country.
"I was thinking, you know, to help the U.S. Army, so that way I can bring peace and prosperity to Afghanistan," he said.
He said his work and the work of many other interpreters was, and continues to be, dangerous.
"Being with the U.S. Army, U.S. Special Forces, you know, an interpreter, you're like a soldier, because we are armed, we had guns," Lucky explained.
He served for eight years, working side-by-side, and many times, out in front of, U.S. Forces. He survived not one, but two, IED explosions - it's how he got his name.
"My name got changed," he said. "They keep calling me Lucky, you are Lucky."
Lucky's decision to work as an interpreter has come at a price. In one photo, Lucky's car is riddled with bullets. Because he decided to help the U.S., he became a Taliban target.
But he has a larger concern.
"Because of my job, I have put my family life in danger," he said.
The U.S. Military made Lucky a promise: he and his family would be protected. They have kept their part of the bargain.
After three years of vetting, Lucky's Visa to the U.S. was granted two months ago.
But because of President Trump's executive action, he fears he will not be able to return to Afghanistan to help others in his family.
"I am scared, maybe I will not be allowed to come back to USA," Lucky said.
Afghanistan is not among the seven countries on the ban list, but suspension of the refugee program is affecting Afghan translators who have been given special immigrant visas for helping U.S. troops.
The Pentagon says they are compiling the names of Iraqis who have supported U.S. and coalition personnel to help exempt them from the 90-day immigration ban.
The list will include those who have tangibly demonstrated their commitment to supporting U.S. forces, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said. It will contain several categories of people, such as translators, drivers and Iraqi forces who may be training in the U.S.
Veterans who have been aiding translators say it would be difficult to get everyone on the list.
What's more, they say the ban sends a message to Iraqi soldiers and other Muslims fighting insurgents that the United States does not want them.
Lucky says recent actions send a message: that even though people like him put their lives on the line for the military, the U.S. military might not have their back in return.
When it comes time to find people like him again, they might be more difficult to find, Lucky says.
"The local interpreter will not help them," he said.