Once an Iraqi refugee, ‘Princess Alyaa’ now a US citizen
I first met Alyaa in June 2003 at our forward-operating base in south-central Baghdad. We didn’t have enough Arabic translators in the Army, partially because it seemed many had been kicked out under the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Alyaa, a recent Baghdad University graduate who spoke fluent English, French, and Arabic, showed up at our at our base, which was bustling with dozens of agitated Iraqis trying to get water, food, and medical care. Alyaa looked like any other recent college student—dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, looking to help out. She was eventually hired as a translator, and after seeing her hard-work, we brought her onto our small team.
“Princess Alyaa,” as we came to call her, traveled with our unit across Baghdad as an indispensable part of our team. During our tour in Iraq, Alyaa was not just our interpreter, she was our guardian angel. Every day, our lives were in her hands. More than once, she calmed down an aggravated Iraqi who threatened to do us harm. Alyaa’s service to the United States came at considerable risk to herself and to her family. While we slept in a fortified base, with only mortars being a true and constant threat, Alyaa returned to a neighborhood where there was no one to protect her from the militants who viewed her as a traitor to her country and her people.
Read more here.
This article was originally published in msnbc.
To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:
Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or email@example.com
Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or email@example.com
Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, TalkPoverty.org, faith)
202.478.5328 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Beatriz Lopez (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.741.6255 or email@example.com
Spanish-language and ethnic media: Rafael Medina
202.478.5313 or firstname.lastname@example.org
TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or email@example.com
Radio: Sally Tucker
202.481.8103 or firstname.lastname@example.org