House Passes Legislation to Protect Afghan Allies
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the United States prepares to wind down its presence in Afghanistan, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed bipartisan legislation supported by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) to protect thousands of brave Afghan allies who have served alongside U.S. military forces since 2002.
Blumenauer first became involved in the cause of Afghan allies after being contacted by a social studies class from Portland’s Lincoln High School nearly 15 years ago. It prompted him to work with former Senators John McCain and Teddy Kennedy to create the Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) programs. Over the years, he has remained a leader in efforts to strengthen these critical programs to bring safety to the brave men and women who risked their lives to help the United States. Today’s bill was a product of months of work by Blumenauer’s Honoring Our Promises Working Group.
“For too long, there has not been a sense of urgency that is necessary to ensure safety for the people who put their lives on the line to help Americans in these difficult circumstances,” Blumenauer said today on the House floor. “I admire what President Biden is doing in terms of winding down our presence in Afghanistan. I hope he brings that same sense of urgency to deal with the people we can't afford to leave behind. I call upon the administration to expedite the transition. And I call on all of us in Congress to continue providing the resources, the attention, and the urgency to make the program successful. Make no mistake, we have a lot of work to do to protect people who helped us. Because being a friend should not be fatal.”
The Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act passed by the House today makes important changes to the Afghan SIV program to improve visa processing. It also adds an additional 8,000 visas to the SIV program, strengthens protections for surviving spouses and children of deceased SIV applicants, and streamlines SIV processing without compromising the strict background check and national security vetting procedures, or other processes to confirm visa eligibility.