As Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal Begins, Allies Shouldn’t Be Left Behind

WASHINGTON — As the United States begins the troop withdrawal from the nearly 20-year war in Afghanistan, national security experts, human rights advocates and U.S. military veterans are calling on Congress to ensure that Afghan interpreters, military intelligence assets and other American-affiliated Afghans in need of protection are able to resettle in the United States. In a policy paper sent to lawmakers, Truman Center for National Policy, Human Rights First, and Veterans for American Ideals advocate for a mass evacuation of Afghans promised U.S. protection and an immediate adjustment on the cap on Special Immigrant Visa allocations.

“It’s imperative that the United States honor its commitments to those Afghans who have saved so many American lives,” said Chris Purdy, project manager for Veterans for American Ideas, a project of Human Rights First. “This is a commitment that we have failed at every step over the last 20 years. As we prepare to withdraw, we cannot abandon our allies again, we must bring them with us. Failure to do so will be an enduring stain on our nation’s history.

The white paper published today, “Special Immigrant Visa: A cooperative call to action,” calls for the U.S government to move swiftly to protect Afghans who worked alongside Americans during the war. The paper recommends that:

  • The United States starts a mass evacuation of American-affiliated Afghans to American territory, including the possibility of evacuation to Guam where visas and asylum can be processed;
  • The government reopen and process cases that were unfairly denied, especially between 2016 and 2019 when U.S. bureaucrats unethically placed restrictions on SIV applications;
  • A senior administration official be appointed to effectively coordinate the safe relocation of American-affiliated Afghans;
  • Congress remove the cap on the number of Afghan SIV visas;
  • And resettlement agencies immediately begin to receive adequate funding to help SIVs land on their feet once they arrive.

The whole paper is available here.


Published on April 22, 2021


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