Defense bill includes 3,500 more visas for Afghans

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Opinion by DML
The wide-open door festival, which is also known as the U.S. immigration system, is rolling out the red carpet for another 3,500 people from the war-torn country of Afghanistan.   No doubt, this report makes you happy because wasn’t it you last night who was thinking to yourself … “You know, self, the USA doesn’t take in enough people from the Middle East.  One million immigrants per year just isn’t enough, we could use another 3,500.”

According to a new report, the annual defense policy bill would provide 3,500 more visas for Afghans who helped U.S. troops.   The claim by the U.S government is that the special immigrant visa program assists Afghans who potentially face threats to their lives because they assisted U.S. troops in one way or another, e.g., interpretation services.

Truth is, the special visa program nearly lapsed earlier this year because of a lack of available visas.  In fact, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul stopped interviewing applicants just two months after Trump took office claiming it would not start again until Congress acted.

Now, what is simply amazing to me, is how fast Congress responded to the possible lapse.

We can’t get Congress to do much for the American people, but when it comes to acting on new visas it’s a completely different ballgame.

Knowing the lapse was about to happen, Congress jumped to its feet and approved 2,500 more visas as part of a government spending bill in May, which prevented the program from stopping.   You’re thinking, “Thank goodness!” Right? 

Wait. It gets better.

The Senate-passed version of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would have added another 4,000 visas to the program.   (Don’t you just love the Senate.  They are so, so pro-active!  I wonder how hard McCain pushed for this one?)

But the House-passed version did not include any more visas.  So, what to do?

Congress compromised, placing 3,500 new visas in the final bill.  That said, if you believe that America can never get too many Afghans, well then you must be tickled pink.  To the contrary, if you’re concerned about these people taking jobs from Americans, or relying on the US welfare systems, or even better…. if you’re concerned about them potentially carrying out acts of terror on US soil, I urge you to PLEASE stop being a racist.

The visa program for Afghans started in 2009 with 1,500 annually through 2013. More visas were easily approved in 2014, but another increase became more of a fight in 2016.   But hey, don’t you worry, visas are back in full swing. Congress has returned to the Obama way of doing things.

Hey, look on the bright side…. at least Congress is getting something accomplished.

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