New Haven immigrant, interpreter for U.S. military, speaks on Trump order


(WTNH) — Part of President Trump‘s executive order bans all refugees for 120 days, and caught up in that order are the parents of a New Haven resident, who served as an English interpreter in one of the most dangerous United States Military installations in Afghanistan.

“Because of my service with U.S. forces there, I received threats and my life was in danger,” said Hewad Jhan Hemat.

Ready to die for what he calls the right thing, Hemat, put his life on the line, serving as an interpreter with the U.S. Military in Afghanistan for 8 years at Forward Operating Base Salerno. He was the operations manager for 15 FM radio stations, overseeing 100 journalists who helped spread messages to the local population, on behalf of the United States.

“They started to hunt me,” Hemat said of the Taliban’s reaction to his helping of U.S. troops. “I started receiving messages that, ‘we know you, if you don’t stop, we will kill you.'”

Hemat was granted a Special Immigrant Visa to come to New Haven with his wife and two children. But the SIV didn’t cover his parents or siblings, who remain in Afghanistan, where their home was already attacked.

“(In) 2014, my father called me and someone put hand grenades to his home,” Hemat said.

No one was injured in the attack at his parent’s home. But his worries grew with the news one week ago. President Donald Trump’s executive order, banning all refugees for at least 120 days, put plans on hold to bring Hewad’s parents. He said the president’s action will cause future interpreters like him, to think twice before volunteering to help the United States. And that this will only serve to hurt America’s interests.

“In the future, no one will (want) to work with U.S. troops,” Hemat said. “Because they will think if we work with them, at the end of the day they will leave us behind.”

But Hemat does support a strong vetting process for refugees. It took him two years to get final approval. He said the wait was worth it. He has no regrets helping the Americans after the invasion of his home country. After troops built new schools, hospitals, bridges and roads, it was clear, they were the good guys.

“Because they were fighting for the freedom,” Hemat said. “Fighting for rights of the people. Fighting for security of the United States, security of Afghanistan.”

Hemat said he studied radiology at Kabul Medical University. He said those college credits are useless in America and that he’s forced to start over from square one. He landed a security job at the University of New Haven, and hopes to enroll in classes at some point. He also plans to apply for citizenship, as soon as he is allowed.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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