The Ripon Advance: Kinzinger leads bipartisan group in seeking more Special Immigrant Visas for Afghan allies
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) on May 25 led a bipartisan contingent of 32 lawmakers in introducing legislation that would authorize 4,000 new Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for America’s Afghan partners.
“While we may have differing opinions on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, we can all agree that it would be wrong to abandon the Afghan men and women who supported the U.S. mission for nearly two decades — doing so would essentially hand them a death sentence,” Rep. Kinzinger said.
The congressman sponsored the Afghan Allies Protection Act, H.R. 3513, with original cosponsors including U.S. Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE), Brian Mast (R-FL), Peter Meijer (R-MI), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).
According to information provided by Rep. Kinzinger’s staff, the United States government since 2002 has employed thousands of Afghans to serve alongside U.S. troops, diplomats and other government employees. But because of their service, these individuals and their families have become the targets of anti-American persecution and violence by terrorist groups including the Taliban and ISIS.
In response, Congress created the SIV program to provide them with safe passage to America. However, processing delays have created a major SIV applicant backlog, just as the U.S. accelerates its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, action that is set to be completed this year by the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
“While our legislation will provide additional life-saving visas, more needs to be done to clear the backlog at the State Department before the United States withdraws,” said Rep. Kinzinger. “I hope that President Biden will take seriously the need to address the many concerns within the SIV program, and I stand ready to work with my colleagues to provide a bipartisan solution to protect our Afghan allies.”
Rep. Kinzinger and his colleagues also recommended that the Biden administration take immediate steps to appoint a “SIV Czar” to lead an interagency task force on clearing the backlog of 18,000 SIVs and to develop and execute an evacuation plan for the remaining SIVs who are not a threat to the United States, according to his staff.