Our national security is paramount, and the safety of the American people is the President's primary responsibility. We undoubtedly need a comprehensive look at our immigration vetting process, and we need to be vigilant against all those who enter this country with intentions to cause harm to our country, our freedoms and our citizens.
However, as I expressed over the weekend, I have grave concerns with President Donald Trump's immigration executive order. From the miscommunication with executing this blanket order signed on a Friday evening, we watched as mass confusion created chaos and hysteria across the country and around the world. Stemming from this, I grew even more concerned about the impacts such an order will have on legal U.S. permanent residents, green card holders and visa requests for Iraqis (and their families) who served with our military and U.S. personnel overseas.
Encouraged by calls from Secretary Mattis to provide exemptions, I led a bipartisan letter with my colleagues here in the House to urge President Trump to "to exempt military interpreters, aides and other allies who risked their lives alongside U.S. personnel in Iraq." Our allies risked their own lives, and the safety of their families and loved ones, to advance America's interests.
As a military veteran, I live by the code to leave no man behind, and it's critical we honor that code now. We must uphold our promise to the men and women who served alongside us on the battlefield—it's the honorable thing to do, and sends a strong message to those who currently show such courage serving alongside our military.
I'm proud to have had the bipartisan support of my colleague and fellow veteran Rep. Duncan Hunter and our co-signers. As we navigate the days and weeks ahead, I hope the President recognizes the need for these exemptions, and the need to clarify the specifics of his immigration executive order. I hope he surrounds himself with people who truly understand the holes and gaps in our immigration process, and people who can encourage the best remedies possible.
We simply cannot afford to put ourselves in a position where we turn our backs on our friends. The national security threats we face are very real. We are in a generational fight against radical Islamic terrorism, and, in order to win the war on terror, we must be joined by allies in the Muslim world and have the support of other freedom-loving nations. The values we hold dear in this country must be at the forefront of our policymaking decisions, and the security of our citizens must never be compromised.
As we said in our letter to the President, which I have shared below, the contributions of these Iraqi individuals in support of America's global campaign against radical terrorism is significant and invaluable to our mission. I'm hopeful the President will take our considerations and remedy these issues swiftly.
As a member of Congress and veteran, I will continue to speak up on behalf of the American people—and on behalf of our mission to serve as an example in a world drowning in chaos. America's time is now.
Adam Kinzinger is a Republican and the U.S. representative for Illinois' 16th congressional district.