This past weekend, This American Life feature the story of Kirk Johnson and the thousands of Iraqis seeking asylum in the United States after aiding America in the War in Iraq.
Here is a description of the story, its prologue, and two acts:
The truly incredible story of a guy named Kirk Johnson who started a list of hundreds of Iraqis who needed to get out of their country. They were getting death threats, and he was their only hope. Only 26 and living in his aunt’s basement, he had no idea what to do. How Kirk kind of succeeded spectacularly and failed spectacularly at the same time.
PROLOGUE–Ira talks with Producer Nancy Updike about when she first met Kirk Johnson in 2007. At the time he was mulling a crazy plan that involved Iraqi refugees, the Coast Guard and a boat. (5 minutes)
ACT ONE: RELUCTANT SAILOR–Kirk sleepwalks through an open window and into a completely different life. He explains how he starts compiling a list of Iraqis who’d worked with the U.S. government after the invasion, whose lives were now in danger because of that. Carrying around that list gets some very strange reactions from government officials. Kirk is founder and executive director of The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies. His memoir To Be a Friend Is Fatalcomes out in September. (23 minutes.)
ACT TWO: EMAILS FROM A DEAD MAN.–To get a sense of what may be broken about our process for bringing these Iraqis into the US, the ones who worked with US forces and who believe their lives are now in danger because of that, Kirk Johnson tells Nancy Updike about one guy. Almost a year of his emails were forwarded to Kirk, who printed them out and started to realize that he was looking at a dead man’s attempt to immigrate to the U.S. (29 minutes)