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Reps. Kinzinger, Blumenauer, Stivers & Moulton Introduce Legislation to Expand SIV Program

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Washington, March 16, 2017 | Maura Gillespie ((202) 225-3635) | comments
Yesterday, Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Seth Moulton (D-MA) as well as 12 of their colleagues, introduced H.R.1544 the Keeping Our Promise to Our Afghan Allies Act. This legislation addresses the shortage of visas currently allotted for our the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program.
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WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Seth Moulton (D-MA), as well as 12 of their colleagues, introduced H.R.1544, the Keeping Our Promise to Our Afghan Allies Act.  This legislation addresses the shortage of visas currently allotted for our the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. This program was designed to allow our Afghan allies who served alongside U.S. service members and diplomatic personnel as translators, interpreters, and other support staff during our mission in Afghanistan. Currently, these individuals are under threat from the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and ISIS for risking their lives to serve the United States in Afghanistan.  

Since 2008, close to 14,000 visas have been issued, but today, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul has completely stopped scheduling interviews as there are not enough visas left to accommodate the more than 10,000 applicants on the waiting list. H.R. 1544 authorizes 2,500 more visas for the Afghan SIV program. On introducing this legislation, the Congressmen issued the following statements:

Supporting our troops is vital to our national security. But we must also support those who have risked their lives to serve alongside our American armed forces and personnel overseas in order to advance the cause of freedom, and protect the United States.  And that’s why, joined by my colleagues, I’ve introduced this legislation to expand the SIV program, to honor our commitment to these individuals who risked so much to help us. This bipartisan, bicameral effort is a call to action keep this vital program afloat. It’s critical to our efforts in defeating terrorism, and maintaining our foreign relationships around the world. Today, we introduce this legislation to ensure we leave no man behind.” – Congressman Adam Kinzinger

Keeping faith with those allies who risked their lives, and the lives of their families, to help us should be a priority. This isn’t controversial – in fact, there’s broad bipartisan support. Congress needs to step up, do what’s right, and authorize more visas to keep this critical program intact.” – Congressman Earl Blumenauer

“As our government considers improvements to our immigration system, it is important to ensure we are differentiating between our partners in the region and radical terrorists. One way we can do this is through the Special Immigration Visa program," Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) said. "The Afghanistan Special Immigration Visa program helps those who have supported the American military and our mission abroad at risk to themselves and their families, and I am proud to support this legislation to allow more into visas in the program.”

“One of the things I was most proud of as a Marine infantry officer was that we never let our enemies make us compromise our values, and one of those values is a solemn commitment to our allies and to our brothers in arms. Our Afghan allies put their lives on the line not just for their country, but for ours, and they receive death threats because of their work with our troops. The idea that we would turn our backs on these patriots is wrong and un-American. The bill I’m introducing will ensure that courageous Afghans aren’t left to certain death by continuing the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program. Given that both our values and our national security are at stake, I trust that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will support this vital legislation.” – Congressman Seth Moulton

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