Veterans Applaud Call by Grassley, Shaheen for Additional Visas for Afghan Allies
Washington, D.C.—Veterans for American Ideals, a project of Human Rights First, today praised Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) for calling for an additional four thousand Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for wartime allies who served alongside U.S. forces and government agencies in Afghanistan. The senators’ call came in a letter to Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL)-and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The letter recommends language that would reauthorize the Afghan SIV program, if included in the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations bill.
Veterans for American Ideals calls on the committee to include this language in the final version of the bill, to ensure that the United States’ allies are not left behind.
“Senators Grassley and Shaheen are sending a message to the brave Afghans who served alongside us that they are not alone and they are not forgotten,” said Scott Cooper, founder of Veterans for American Ideals. “These men and women risked their lives for American service members. By providing them with visas we are keeping not only our word to them, we are sending a message to our enemies that the United States stands by its friends.”
In 2009 Congress passed the Afghan Allies Protection Act. The visas allotted in the act allowed wartime allies in Afghanistan to resettle in the United States. The Afghan program has consistently been amended and extended in order to provide haven to those supporting the ongoing mission in Afghanistan. In the last three years, Congress has authorized 10,500 more visas for Afghan wartime allies, either through the National Defense Authorization Act
, or the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
Veterans for American Ideals, in partnership with fellow veteran organizations, has consistently called on Congress to continue to allocate visas for these wartime allies.
“This is an important step forward. Congress knows how important this program is to the strategy in Afghanistan. In any conflict, we rely on local partners on the ground. Honoring the promise we make to them keeps us safer as a nation.” added Cooper.