United States Representatives Jason Crow (D-CO-06), member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Peter Meijer (R-MI-03), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on August 31, joined in introducing legislation to increase the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) cap for Afghan interpreters and other partners who are at risk. Now that the United States has fully withdrawn from Afghanistan, the Showing American Values by Evacuating (SAVE) Afghan Partners Act of 2021 will increase the SIV cap by 10,000 and make clear that those employed under cooperative agreements and grants are eligible for the Afghan SIV program.
“For 20 years, our Afghan partners worked with us and fought with us to accomplish our missions in Afghanistan. They did so with the understanding that if they stood with our soldiers, América would be a place where they could seek refuge. The war may be over, but we can’t leave our friends and partners behind,” said Congressman Jason Crow.
“While the U.S. military is no longer present in Afghanistan, our mission there is not over,” said Congressman Peter Meijer. “We still have thousands of interpreters and other Afghan partners who put themselves and their loved ones at risk now stranded in Afghanistan, and the chaotic and heartbreaking withdrawal that the world witnessed over the last few weeks shows just how vulnerable they still are. By clarifying SIV eligibility requirements and raising the visa cap, we will ensure that our allies are protected and our promises are kept. Our credibility and moral standing in the world depend on the completion of this mission.”
“The SAVE Afghan Partners Act provides vital additional Special Immigrant Visas and reinforces that Afghans who work under U.S. grants and cooperative agreements are within the protections of the SIV program,” Adam Bates, Policy Counsel with the International Refugee Assistance Project. “While the formal U.S. evacuation has been declared over, the evacuation will not be complete until every Afghan ally has a pathway to safety. The Afghan SIV program will be an important component of that continued evacuation effort, and this legislation is a step in the right direction.”
“No One Left Behind is honored to support Representative Crow’s proposed Showing American Values by Evacuating (SAVE) Afghan Partners Act of 2021. This proposed legislation will appropriately increase the total number of available Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) while expanding eligibility to many more of those at-risk Afghans who rendered vital and honorable service alongside American forces in Afghanistan,” said James Miervaldis, Chairman of No One Left Behind. “Past shortcomings in the management of this program severely disadvantaged otherwise eligible allies of the United States and this bill, if signed into law, would be an important measure in trying to make up for those past injustices.”
“For 20 years, our Afghan partners worked with us and fought with us to accomplish our missions in Afghanistan. They did so with the understanding that if they stood with our soldiers, América would be a place where they could seek refuge. The war may be over, but we can’t leave our friends and partners behind.”
Congressman Jason Crow
Representative Crow has been a longtime advocate for evacuating our Afghan partners and allies. In June, Crow introduced the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act, bipartisan legislation to increase the Afghan SIV cap by an additional 8,000 visas and remove burdensome application requirements that slow down the application process. That bill was signed into law by President Biden as part of the Security Supplemental funding on July 30, 2021.
In May, Crow introduced the HOPE for Afghan SIVs Act, bipartisan legislation to temporarily waive the medical examination requirement for SIV applicants, which is cost prohibitive and difficult for many applicants to safely receive. It passed out of the House on June 29th and was signed into law as part of the Security Supplemental funding on July 30, 2021.
Rep. Meijer was also a co-sponsor of both the ALLIES Act and the HOPE Act.
A total of 34,500 SIVs have been allocated since December 19, 2014.
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