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Congressional bill seeks 2,500 new visas for Afghans

Congressional bill seeks 2,500 new visas for Afghans

May 02, 2017 - 08:03

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): An additional 2,500 visas for Afghan interpreters who worked alongside the US military will be created under a bill negotiated by lawmakers over the weekend.

A US newspaper reported the bill, if passed, would benefit hundreds of Afghans whose lives are under threat because of working for American troops during the war.

Introduced in 2008, the special immigrant visa (SIV) programme seeks to let Afghans who had helped the US-led coalition as interpreters find their way to the US, according to the Huffington Post.

Earl Blumenauer, architect of the programme, and Adam Kinzinger, a pilot who served in Afghanistaninfo-icon, urged Congress to include the same level of visas in the omnibus as were included in their legislation.

In a statement on Monday, Blumenauer said: “We need to bring our faithful allies to safety faster and more effectively and today is a major step forward in support of that effort.

“We are going to continue fighting to keep this program alive, no matter the hurdle. This is the bare minimum we can do for those who risked their lives, and the lives of their families, to help our country.”

Kinzinger also welcomed the move. "I’m glad to see the increased number of visas included in the budget -- a good step in the right direction to show our support for those allies who have risked their lives to advance the cause of freedom and protect the United States."

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who spearheaded the effort, said: “This is potentially a life-saving development. Allowing this programme to lapse would send the message to our allies in Afghanistan that the United States has abandoned them.”

The programme is effectively stalled right now, with the State Department looking to Congress to authorise enough visas to keep it going.  The additional 2,500 visas will allow the State Department to resume screening applicants.

PANinfo-icon Monitor/mud

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