On Wednesday, a group of Republican and Democrat senators introduced a bill that would allow 2,500 Afghans who worked as translators for United States armed forces to migrate to the U.S.
The special immigrant visa program titled, “Keeping Our Promise to Our Afghan Allies Act,” would allow Afghans who aided the U.S. military to come to America and bring their families, as many face threats of violence due to their work with the military.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), along with Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), authored the new legislation saying that the bill would send U.S. allies a message that America “will not turn its back on those who, at great personal risk, stand with us in the fight against terror.”
In a statement released by McCain, he said:
“We simply cannot win this war without the assistance of the Afghan people who put their lives on the line to help American troops and diplomats serving in harm’s way. Unfortunately in recent years, Congress has reneged on the promise we made to protect these brave individuals by failing to authorize the appropriate number of Special Immigrant Visas for Afghan translators and interpreters.”
Former President Barack Obama asked for 4,000 additional visas for the Afghan interpreters in his fiscal 2017 request, however, the final 2017 National Defense Authorization Act allowed for only 1,500 visas.
The Act limits the State Department which will likely run out of visas in just a few months as there are currently 12,000 people caught in some stage of the application process.
Supporters of the bill are concerned that not passing the new legislation would do harm to our national security, causing allies to refuse to partner with the U.S. going forward due to the belief that America will not fulfill its promises to them.
“This is a matter of life and death for interpreters and other support staff. As we speak, many of them are being hunted down by the Taliban and other terrorists. We have a moral obligation to protect the thousands of Afghans who put themselves, and their families, at risk to help our soldiers and diplomats. To abandon them now would be a stain on our nation’s honor,” Shaheen said.
The bill would authorize an additional 2,500 visas which would bring the 2017 fiscal number back up to the 4,000 initially requested by Obama.
H/T: Washington Examiner
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