Sunday, March 12, 2017

The US thanks Afghans who helped troops by halting the special immigrant visa program (kelly Macias) · Friday, March 10, 2017, 1:22 pm

The United States seems to have a major problem with showing gratitude to our allies in Afghanistan. Last week, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents at the Los Angeles airport (LAX) held an Afghani family who had special immigrant visas in custody for days. And now the US Embassy in Kabul has stopped interviewing Afghans who acted as interpreters that want to apply for visas.

It seems as if there are not enough visas to go around even though members of Congress have been trying to increase the number of available visas for months.

“This devastating development means that thousands of trusted allies will remain in danger, waiting for Congress to allocate visas that were clearly needed months ago,” Betsy Fisher, policy director of IRAP [International Refugee Assistance Project], said in a statement. “IRAP and champions in Congress were clear last year that, if sufficient visas were not allocated, our allies’ lives would be jeopardized. Our worst fears are proving true.”

Is this really how we want to treat our friends? Can’t we get anything right? Leading the charge is Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) who insists that Congress act immediately. Last year, Shaheen worked closely with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to try to add 4,000 new visas to the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program. Only 1,500 were added:

The National Defense Authorization Act passed in December added 1,500 visas to the 3,500 visas left and reauthorized the program for four years. It also tightened requirements for who could get visas to those considered in the most danger.

More than 10,000 Afghan are estimated to still be waiting for visas.


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