are urging President Joe Biden
to keep his promise to the thousands of Afghans who helped the US during the war by expediting their evacuations and approving visa applications to enter the United States
before it is too late.
“We're going to see pictures of them lined up against a wall and machine-gunned, and that's not an exaggeration,” Senate
Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said on MSNBC
Tuesday morning, urging the Biden administration
to act quickly and decisively.
Leahy introduced a supplemental funding bill on Monday that includes assistance for those Afghans, such as 20,000 more Afghan special immigrant
visas and $100 million in emergency aid for Afghan refugees
“We must ensure that the brave Afghans who stood with America
are not abandoned as we conclude our mission in that country, and there is bipartisan support for this effort. We made a promise to the Afghans who risked their lives to support and protect our troops and our country, and as a country, our word is our bond, and we all agree, Republicans
and Democrats, that bond will not be broken on our watch
Last Thursday, Biden announced that the United States would evacuate Afghan translators and other allies who assisted the United States during the decade-long war, and that relocation flights would begin later this month. However, the exact details of the plan remain unknown, including where they will be relocated or how long they are expected to wait for approval to enter the United States.
Meanwhile, violence in Afghanistan
has increased since the United States announced the withdrawal of all remaining U.S. troops in September. Many who worked with the US have expressed fear for their lives, fearing retaliatory attacks from the Taliban
after the United States announced the withdrawal of all remaining troops in the country by September. At least 300 interpreters have been killed in Afghanistan.
Members of Congress
passed the Honoring Our Promises through Expedition for Afghan SIVs Act (HOPE for Afghan SIVs Act) in the House
last week by a vote of 366-46, which would speed up the Special Immigrant Visas program, which allows people
who worked as translators and interpreters for the US military
and Afghanistan to come to the US.
More than 17,000 Afghan nationals are currently awaiting visa approval, along with an estimated 53,000 family
members; the average processing time
per visa is 800 days, and many have waited years.
The International Rescue
Committee, which has resettled over 15,000 Afghan SIV recipients since Congress established the program, has urged the administration to address the backlog as well as the thousands of Afghans who are in desperate need of protection who are ineligible under this program.
Delays have plagued the program for years, according to JC Hendrickson, senior director of policy and advocacy at the IRC, so it is critical for the Biden administration to consider other pathways for Afghans, such as redesignating Afghanistan as a priority for resettlement, using embassy referrals to speed up the vetting, and utilizing the asylum
process to evacuate those facing threats quickly.
“The government’s ability to parole
people in the short term to address this very real need within the next few weeks is something that should be considered,” Hendrickson said.