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Kinzinger, Blumenauer, Stivers, & Moulton Re-Introduce Legislation to Expand Special Immigrant Visa Program

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Washington, May 8, 2018 | Maura Gillespie ((202) 225-3635) | comments
Today, Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Seth Moulton (D-MA) introduced H.R.5694, the Afghan Allies Protection Amendments Act. 
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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Seth Moulton (D-MA) introduced H.R.5694, the Afghan Allies Protection Amendments Act.  This legislation addresses the shortage of visas currently allotted for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. This program was designed to support America’s Afghan allies, those who served alongside U.S. service members and diplomatic personnel as translators, interpreters, and other support staff during U.S. missions 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.

The original bill, H.R. 1544, Keeping Our Promise to Our Afghan Allies Act was first introduced by these four Congressmen in March 2017. Reintroducing a modification of the bill today provides an updated version ahead of the NDAA discussions for Fiscal Year 2019 to increase the number of visas allotted and to streamline the program with technical corrections.

“We have the greatest military in the world, and supporting our troops is critical to our national security. We must also remember our allies overseas who have risked their own lives to serve with American armed forces and personnel in order to advance the cause of freedom, and protect the United States. The War in Afghanistan continues, and I believe we must expand the SIV program and honor our commitment to those who risked so much to help us. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan, bicameral effort to keep the Afghan SIV program open and operating effectively. Our commitment to our allies is part of America’s legacy, it’s how we will defeat terrorism, and maintain our foreign relationships around the world. Today, we introduce this legislation to ensure we leave no man behind.” – Congressman Adam Kinzinger

It's outrageous we have to fight every year to keep the Special Immigrant Visa program alive and unconscionable we face artificial limits on the number of allies we can protect. These partners served alongside American personnel risking their lives, and the lives of their families, to help us. We are indebted to them. Ensuring their safety is the bare minimum.” – Congressman Earl Blumenauer

Throughout the years our military has been in the Middle East, there have been Afghan and Iraqi citizens who have  provided our country with critical support," Congressman Steve Stivers said. "These individuals put their lives, and the lives of their families, on the line to help our nation. The Special Immigrant Visa program provides extra consideration for these allies trying to come to the United States to live. This is one way we can honor these brave families.”

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

The updated legislation, H.R. 5694, will authorize 4,000 SIVs for FY19 and allow for the carryover of unused visas to future fiscal years. The bill will also clarify eligibility requirements and renew authority over the unused visas from the Iraqi SIV program, which closed in 2014. The full text of the updated legislation can be found here.

As of today, the Afghan Allies Protection Amendments Act shares bicameral support with a Senate companion bill introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Cory Gardner (R-CO).

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