Momentum, Urgency Grow for Protecting Afghan Allies

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With the Pentagon intending to withdraw troops fully from Afghanistan by July, national security experts are urging the Biden administration to protect our Afghan allies — and bipartisan members of Congress are taking action.

Today the Council on National Security and Immigration sent a letter to President Biden, calling on the administration to “act with urgency and make plans to protect the Afghan civilians who risked their lives alongside their United States ally. It is not only our moral obligation, but a national security imperative.” The council, which comprises national security leaders who served in Republican administrations and a Republican former member of Congress, calls on the administration to evacuate Afghan allies who are eligible for protection in the U.S. as a first step.

Meanwhile, the bipartisan Afghan Allies Protection Act, newly reintroduced in the House, would expand and expedite protections for Afghan nationals who assisted U.S. troops. The bill would make an additional 4,000 Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) slots available for SIV holders and eligible applicants from Afghanistan.

Many of these allies and their families receive ongoing threats from the Taliban for their collaboration with U.S. troops — threats that will likely intensify amid the troop withdrawal.

Protections for these Afghans and their families have strong support on both sides of the aisle. Following President Biden’s April announcement of the military withdrawal, bipartisan groups of lawmakers in both the Senate and the House have sent letters calling on the Biden administration to prioritize the protection of Afghan allies.

“Thousands of Afghans have put their lives on the line by assisting our troops, and we’re encouraged to see lawmakers taking decisive action to protect them and their families,” said Ali Noorani, President and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “With accelerated plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, time is of the essence to ensure that vulnerable U.S. allies are safe. This bill is a critical step, but it will not be enough without action from President Biden.

“The Biden administration should urgently devise a plan to evacuate current Afghan SIV applicants, their family members, and any additional Afghan allies who would be eligible for humanitarian protection in the U.S. to a safe location while their applications are processed. Those who risk their lives to protect American values deserve no less.”

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