Blumenauer, Kinzinger Hail Passage of the Emergency Afghan Allies Extension Act
Today, the House passed our bill, H.R. 5195, the Emergency Afghan Allies Extension Act of 2014. This bill secures 1,000 additional, emergency Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) to bring Afghan translators, who served shoulder-to-shoulder with our troops, to safety in the United States. There was need for immediate action because the State Department has confirmed they have completely exhausted all visas Congress authorized in December. A failure to provide these additional visas ensures the many brave translators the U.S. promised to protect in exchange for their service would be left in Afghanistan, hiding, their lives still threatened daily by the Taliban.
As a result of significant reforms to the SIV programs passed by Congress and spearheaded by Secretary Kerry, the State Department has been processing, on average, 400 visas a month, since January. That means these 1,000 additional visas authorized by the House today should last us until the end of September, when we can secure a more permanent extension, and hopefully beyond.
We are very grateful to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Chairman Bob Goodlatte, and their staffs for working with us in such a bipartisan, cooperative fashion to achieve this important goal today. Without them, it would not have been possible.
Now, the bill must pass through the Senate. We urge our colleagues, lead by Senators Shaheen and McCain, to pass this bill with all expediency before they depart for August recess. We have already taken too much time, and the brave translators that are in mortal danger cannot wait any longer.