Revisiting the Mustafa Akarsu Local Guard Force Support Act

— Domani Spero
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In December last year, we urged your support for a bill in Congress intended to provide Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) to a surviving spouse or child of an employee of the United States Government killed overseas in the line of duty (see Please Ask Congress to Support the Mustafa Akarsu Local Guard Force Support Act).

This Act may be cited as the “Mustafa Akarsu Local Guard Force Support Act”.

SEC. 2. SPECIAL IMMIGRANT STATUS FOR CERTAIN SURVIVING SPOUSES AND CHILDREN.

In General.–Section 101(a)(27) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)) is amended in subparagraph (D)– (1) by inserting “(i)” before “an immigrant who is an employee”; and (2) by inserting the following: “(ii) an immigrant who is the surviving spouse or child of an employee of the United States Government abroad killed in the line of duty, provided that the employee had performed faithful service for a total of fifteen years, or more, and that the principal officer of a Foreign Service establishment (or, in the case of the American Institute of Taiwan, the Director thereof) in his discretion, recommends the granting of special immigrant status to the spouse and children and the Secretary of State approves such recommendation and find that it is in the national interest to grant such status;”. (b) Effective Date.–This Act and the amendments made by this Act shall take effect beginning on January 31, 2013, and shall have retroactive effect.

Check out this page showing support for H.R. 1781. Warning, reading the comments posted against this bill will melt your brain and make you want to throw your shoes at somebody.

A comment from a Maine voter says it all:

Some of the ignorant comments I have seen regarding this case make me ashamed. We have an obligation to the families of these guards who make the ultimate sacrifice, and a few nice words and a flag just don’t cut it. We need to do the right thing here.

So, on June 14, 2013, this bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.  As of 12/13/2014 no related bill information has been received for H.R.1781 – the Mustafa Akarsu Local Guard Force Support Act.  The majority of the bills die in committee, and that apparently happened to this one, too.

The 114th Congress will be seated on January 3, 2015 and will run until January 3, 2017.  The GOP has taken control of both the Senate and the House. It is a worthwhile cause to urge our congressional representatives to revisit this bill again when they return in January, with great hope that it will pass this time.

We think it is important to emphasize that this bill, hopefully reintroduced in the 114th Congress, has a very narrow coverage — only for a spouse or child of a USG employee killed in the line of duty, and only if the employee has performed faithful service for at least fifteen years. It also needs the recommendation of the principal officer at post and the approval of the Secretary of State.

If Congress can allocate 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States (see “Lottery” Diversity Visas), we can find no reason why it cannot allocate visas to the next of kin of persons who actually died while protecting United States government officials and properties.

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Contact Congress: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/US-Congress.shtml

We believe this site will also update when the 114th Congress is seated and can be used to contact congressional representatives next year: http://www.contactingthecongress.org

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Please Ask Congress to Support the Mustafa Akarsu Local Guard Force Support Act

— Domani Spero

On February 1, 2012, the United States Embassy in Ankara, Turkey was attacked by a suicide bomber.  The attacker was reportedly carrying a handgun, a hand grenade, and 6 kilograms of TNT.  Had he been successful,  there would have been considerable harm to Americans and embassy employees inside. One of the armed Turkish Embassy Guards, Mustafa Akarsu, stopped the bomber before he could get into the compound.  The suicide bomber detonated the device, killing Mustafa instantly. See our previous posts below:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presents an award to the family of Embassy guard Mustafa Akarsu at a Memorial Ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, on March 1, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presents an award to the family of Embassy guard Mustafa Akarsu at a Memorial Ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, on March 1, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

1,294 people helped DS Agent, David Root raised funds for Mustafa Akarsu’s next of kin.  On April 26, 2013, Rep. McCaul, Michael T. [R-TX-10] also introduced the Mustafa Akarsu Local Guard Force Support Act.  It currently has 18 cosponsors.  In June 2013, it was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. Below is a quick summary of the bill:

Mustafa Akarsu Local Guard Force Support Act – Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide special immigrant status for the surviving spouse or child of a U.S. government employee killed abroad in the line of duty, provided that: (1) the employee had performed faithful service for at least 15 years; and (2) the principal officer of a Foreign Service establishment (or, in the case of the American Institute of Taiwan, the Director) recommends, and the Secretary of State approves, the granting of such status.

States that this Act shall be effective beginning on January 31, 2013, and shall have retroactive effect.

We should add that unlike the Iraqi and Afghan SIVs which require “faithful and valuable service” to the U.S. Government “for a period of one year or more,” this bill is narrowly tailored only for the surviving spouse or child of an employee with at least 15 years of service who die in the line of duty.

Over in VoxPop (h/t to M), constituents are running 52% to 48% in opposition of the bill when it was first flagged to our attention. The support has slightly gained numbers as I’m writing this but the numbers are small and borderline.  I have not used this service but it “provides a curating interface for anyone — including Congressional staff, the public and the media — to access and understand the voice of the people.”

Someone from California’s 6th district writes, “I oppose H.R. 1781 [….] because this doesn’t sound like a good idea. It invites angry people here.”

But most comments so far, are favorable and supportive.

David from Maryland’s 1st District writes:

I was one of the U.S. Embassy employees in Turkey that was saved the day Mustafa selflessly sacrificed himself and stopped a suicide bomber from killing may others.

The standing policy is that any local employee who has worked for the U.S. Government for 15 years or more is eligible to become a U.S. citizen with his family. Mustafa had more than 22 years and was in the process of finishing his application when he was killed, defending American soil.

In a time, when many are automatically placed in front of Mustafa with no service to America at all, isn’t this very limited legislation the LEAST we can do to ensure that his family has at least a place in line?

A constituent from South Carolina’s 1st district writes, “If it wasn’t for Mr. Akarsu who knows how many people would have been hurt in this attack.” 

An FSO from Texas 21st district pleads, “Please do what’s right and honor the sacrifices of all members of the Embassy community, most especially those who die for America even when it is not (yet) their country.”

An Embassy employee from Washington State’s 3rd district writes:

“I was directly in harms way when Mustafa stopped the February 1 bomber. I have interacted with his family and can speak first hand of the warmth and affection they have for our mission and the United States. These are not jaded or bitter people. Mustafa’s family is one of many who has devoted so much to the U.S. and to the protection of our missions. It’s wrong to turn our backs on the families of those who have given so much for us. Please support this bill. It’s the right thing to do.”

It will only take a moment.  Please add your voice of support by contacting your representatives.  If you want to use the VoxPop service (registration required), you may contact your reps by clicking the “Support” button here.  You have an option to add  a personal message in your letter to your congressional reps.

Thank you! Ben teşekkür ederim!

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