Keeping our promise

May 30, 2019
Since 2002, the U.S. government has employed tens of thousands of Afghan and Iraqi allies to serve alongside our troops. Afghan and Iraqi people have become targets of anti-American persecution and violence at the hands of the Taliban and other extremist groups because of their service to the United States. With broad bipartisan support, I worked to create the Iraqi and Afghan SIV programs to bring to safety brave men and women who risked their lives to help us. My work continues to this very day.
Today, with Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, I introduced the Afghan Allies and Protection Act which authorizes 4,000 Special Immigrant Visas to Afghan translators that assisted our troops during the war.
I became involved in this issue over a decade ago after being contacted by a social studies class from Lincoln High School in Portland. They’d embraced the cause of a young Afghan woman who served as an interpreter for U.S. troops, but feared reprisal as a result of her actions. After much delay, she finally made it to the United States.
I passed legislation to create a special immigrant visa program for Iraqis and Afghans in similar circumstances. I worked with Senator McCain on this effort until he passed away.  He felt very passionate about this program and the importance of continuing to honor our commitment to those who help our military personnel in times of conflict.
Special Immigrant Visa recipients put their lives on the line for our country. In return, we promised them safety and a new life in the United States. We must keep our promise. This legislation is critical to the lives of these translators, the safety of our troops abroad, and our international standing of being true to our word.