The Ripon Advance: Gardner, Kinzinger, Stivers introduce bill to protext Afghan visas
Bipartisan, bicameral companion bills introduced by U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and by U.S. Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Steve Stivers (R-OH) this month would authorize 4,000 additional visas by further extending the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program.Bipartisan, bicameral companion bills introduced by U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and by U.S. Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Steve Stivers (R-OH) this month would authorize 4,000 additional visas by further extending the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program.
The Afghan Allies Protection Amendments Act of 2018 would permit Afghans who have supported the United States mission in Afghanistan and face threats as a result of their service to apply for refuge in the United States, according to a summary provided by Sen. Gardner’s staff. The bill would extend the Afghan SIV program for the next fiscal year and take additional steps to strengthen Afghan SIV processing and vetting. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Senate measure along with Sen. Gardner and five other cosponsors.
Sen. Gardner noted that when he recently traveled to Afghanistan to meet with American commanders and troops from Colorado, he also spoke with several Afghan military soldiers and civilians assisting the United States in the war against terrorism.
“These Afghan personnel are standing shoulder to shoulder with the United States and providing critical support to our mission,” Sen. Gardner said. “We must thank them for their sacrifice and provide refuge to these courageous Afghans. This bipartisan legislation is a good first step to keep our promise to the Afghan people.”
“Their service in support of our military and diplomatic personnel in Afghanistan has saved American lives,” Sen. Shaheen said. “Given the Trump Administration’s decision to deploy several thousand additional U.S. military personnel to Afghanistan last year, continued authorization of the Afghan SIV program remains critical to the mission.”
Reps. Kinzinger and Stivers introduced the Afghan Allies Protection Amendments Act of 2018, H.R. 5694, on May 7 with U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Seth Moulton (D-MA). The bill has been referred to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.
H.R. 5694 and the Senate companion bill address the shortage of visas currently allotted for the Afghan SIV program, which was designed to support America’s Afghan allies who served alongside U.S. service members and diplomatic personnel as translators, interpreters and other support staff during U.S. missions in Afghanistan, according to information provided by Rep. Kinzinger’s staff.
Currently, these Afghan support staff personnel are under threat from the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and ISIS for risking their lives to serve the United States in Afghanistan, the congressman’s staff says.
The original bill, Keeping Our Promise to Our Afghan Allies Act, H.R. 1544, had been introduced by the same four congressmen in March 2017. According to Rep. Kinzinger’s staff, H.R. 5694 is a modification of this bill and provides an updated version ahead of the National Defense Authorization Act Fiscal Year 2019 budget negotiations toward increasing the number of allotted visas and to streamline the program.
“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,” said Rep. Kinzinger in a May 8 statement. “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.”
“This is one way we can honor these brave families,” said Rep. Stivers about the Afghan and Iraqi citizens who he said have provided the United States with critical support and put their lives and their families’ lives on the line to help the nation.