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IRAP Applauds Passage of Legislation Expanding and Expediting Protections for Afghan Allies and Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                     

July 30, 2021

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Mackenzie Sheldon
media@refugeerights.org

IRAP APPLAUDS PASSAGE OF LEGISLATION EXPANDING AND EXPEDITING PROTECTIONS FOR AFGHAN ALLIES AND FAMILIES

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) applauds yesterday’s passage of an emergency supplemental appropriations act (HR 3237) that includes much-needed funding and additional visas to support local allies who worked alongside U.S. personnel in Afghanistan. We urge the Administration to promptly implement the provisions of this bill, and while we celebrate this morning’s arrival of 200 Afghan allies on U.S. soil, we call on the Administration to take bolder, quicker action to bring the remaining almost 20,000 allies and their families to safety immediately.

This legislation makes 8,000 additional visas available to Afghan allies and implements important procedural changes to the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program that have been previously recommended by IRAP.  Importantly, the bill also expedites the SIV process for certain applicants so that they can be evacuated immediately to the United States as lawful permanent residents. 

The law also expands protections for surviving spouses and children of slain applicants, like our client, Fida, who was murdered earlier this year by the Taliban while his long-pending visa was in the final stages of approval. His widow and six children were left in grave danger with no clear pathway to safety, until IRAP staff and supporters successfully advocated for the family to be granted humanitarian parole. We are grateful that families like Fida’s can now receive broader, built-in protections.

“We are relieved that Congress has taken decisive action toward fulfilling the United States’ promise to Afghan allies,” said Sunil Varghese, Policy Director of IRAP. “These additional visas and improvements to SIV procedures will go a long way in preventing further unnecessary loss of life. We are proud of advocating for these changes, and we are especially encouraged to see that the spouses and children of murdered SIV applicants will not be left out in the cold.”

IRAP has prepared a summary of the provisions in HR 3237 that expand legal protections for Afghan allies. We call on the Administration to immediately implement the provisions of this bill and take more expansive and expeditious action to bring all Afghan allies and their families to safety before it is too late.

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