Veterans Praise Bipartisan Legislation Providing Lifelines to Afghan Allies
Washington, D.C.—Veterans for American Ideals today applauded the introduction of the Afghan Allies Protection Act, bipartisan legislation that would authorize four thousand new special immigrant visas (SIVs) for Afghan partners who served alongside American troops, diplomats, and other government employees. The bill would additionally require the State Department to report to Congress on the obstacles to protecting Iraqi and Afghan allies and suggestions for improving the program. Veterans for American Ideals calls for swift passage of the legislation and continued protection of allies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Many brave Afghans chose to stand by the United States; because of that choice, their lives and the lives of their families are in danger. Turning our back on them is not only a moral failure, but a strategic one,” said Bishop Garrison, director of Veterans for American Ideals. “More missions were successful and more American lives were saved because of their service to us, and that’s exactly why members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are coming together in support of this legislation.”
Today’s legislation was introduced during a press conference by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Seth Moulton (D-MA). In total, the Afghan Allies Protection Act has 30 bipartisan cosponsors from the House of Representatives. The Senate version of the bill was also introduced today by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) with the support of Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Jack Reed (D-RI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).
Congress created the SIV program in 2009 with broad bipartisan support to provide pathways to safety for Afghans whose work with the U.S. government. Their allegiance exposes them to direct threats, and jeopardizes their safety and that of their loved ones. In recent years, the SIV applicant backlog has continued to grow while Congress struggles to allot enough visas to bring our allies to safety in the United States.
Admissions of Afghan allies are down 53 percent this year. The admission of Iraqi allies who worked for the United States has been reduced to only 349 admittances this fiscal year.
Veterans for American Ideals is a veteran-led project of Human Rights First. For more information, or to speak with Garrison, contact Christopher Plummer at PlummerC@humanrightsfirst.org