An article in the Military Times about the renewal of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program highlights the stakes of passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in its current form, which makes no mention of the program. An amendment to the NDAA will be essential to protecting our Afghan allies and their families.
Unless the extension of the program is authorized by Congress, no further applicants will be accepted and no additional visas provided. The House’s draft of the annual defense bill passed without any mention of the program, and so far senators have been unsuccessful in including an amendment proposed on Thursday.
The bipartisan amendment, sponsored by Senator Jeanne Shaheen, was blocked when Senator Mike Lee insisted on including an amendment of his own. Senator John McCain, who co-sponsored the agreement, strongly criticized Lee, accusing him of “literally signing the death warrants of some people who in their innocence decided they would help the United States.”
If the defense bill passes without the crucial amendment to extend the program, thousands of U.S. allies will be left in limbo. Quoting IRAP director and co-founder Becca Heller, the article states that “about 10,000 Afghan nationals are still pending consideration in the program.” Without additional visas, they will face an unknown future, whilst fearing for their lives and those of their families.
IRAP’s policy team is working alongside senators, NGOs, and other supporters of the SIV program to develop a strategy to preserve it.
Check out the full article here.