WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. will stand by Afghan nationals who assisted the United States and relocate those who want to leave Afghanistan, President Joe Biden said in a speech this afternoon.
Biden said efforts are underway to remove our Afghan allies and their families to places outside the continental United States before the U.S. military mission ends Aug. 31.
“We’re encouraged by the president’s commitment to stand with our Afghan allies, but now we need details,” said Ali Noorani, President and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “The administration needs to clarify eligible populations, the timeline for the evacuation and where people will be relocated while processing and vetting takes place.
“We are well past time for plans to be in place and this operation to be underway. Time is of the essence to protect those who put their lives on the line to work with American forces and civilian efforts. A swift, orderly evacuation is crucial not just for saving Afghan lives, but for assuring our allies worldwide that we keep our promises.”
Last month, the Biden administration announced a preliminary plan to relocate Afghan allies and their families to third countries while their U.S. visa applications are processed. While many of these Afghans are eligible for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), applicants currently face a growing backlog of more than 18,000, along with an estimated 53,000 family members.
Members of Congress have been working on a bipartisan basis to support these Afghan allies, including passing the Honoring Our Promises through Expedition (HOPE) Act in the House by a 366-46 vote last week. The bill would expedite the SIV application process.
Veterans and national security leaders have joined SIV recipients to underscore the need to immediately implement an evacuation plan. The Forum recently published a fact sheet explaining the context and urgency of the situation, and another providing an overview of SIVs.