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Press Release: IRAP Calls on Senate to Authorize Additional Visas in NDAA 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                     

June 10, 2016


Catherine Crooke

917.375.5551 (cell)



Fisher: Despite broad bipartisan support for the Afghan SIV program, efforts to authorize additional visas have been blocked, abandoning Afghan allies to serious danger. IRAP calls on the U.S. Senate to ensure that visas are included in the NDAA.

New York, NY, June 10, 2016 – The International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center has joined a letter with No One Left Behind, the Ronin Refugee Project, and Veterans for American Ideals/Human Rights First. The letter calls on the U.S. Senate to authorize needed visas for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program that protects U.S. allies in Afghanistan. The Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 fails to authorize additional visas or extend the program—threatening to abandon thousands of applicants still in the application process.

Senators Shaheen, McCain, Tillis and Reed offered a bipartisan amendment, S.A. 4604, which would reauthorize the program and allocate additional visas for Afghan allies who served alongside US military personnel and diplomats. Despite broad bipartisan support, that amendment was blocked by Senator Mike Lee, who supports the amendment but insisted that an additional measure also be considered. Without additional visas, the United States will abandon thousands of Afghans who are targeted for their work with the United States.

“We are grateful for the passionate leadership that Senators McCain, Graham, Shaheen, and others have shown in the last week,” said Betsy Fisher, Policy Director of IRAP. “However, we are deeply disappointed that these incredible efforts have not resulted in the life-saving visas that our Afghan allies need. The Senate must take action to allocate visas and demonstrate our commitment to stand with allies who have sacrificed for our country.”

After five years of failing to issue visas to our Afghan allies, the State Department began improving the process in 2013 after intense advocacy by IRAP and a broad coalition. SIV processing continues to be slow, but 4,000 additional visas are needed for the State Department to continue to issue visas to Afghan allies who served alongside U.S. troops and diplomats.

To view the full press release as a PDF, click here: IRAP NDAA Senate Press Release June 10 2016