House votes to increase and velocity up visa course of for Afghans who helped the U.S. throughout battle

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) takes questions as she holds her weekly information convention with Capitol Hill reporters on the Capitol in Washington, July 22, 2021.

Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

The House authorised laws Thursday that can increase and expedite the particular immigrant visa program for Afghans who aided U.S. and coalition forces and should face retribution from the Taliban. 

The invoice handed overwhelmingly in a 407-16 vote, with all “no” votes coming from Republicans. It will now transfer to the Senate. 

The vote comes as U.S. and coalition forces close to the tip of their withdrawal from Afghanistan. Thousands of Afghans who assisted the U.S. and NATO throughout America’s longest battle are ready for visa software approvals because the Taliban continues to grab extra territory within the war-torn nation. 

“The phrase life and death gets tossed around a lot in this chamber. But this bill is truly that for thousands of our Afghan friends. The Taliban is intent on hunting down and killing Afghans who have served alongside Americans the past 20 years,” mentioned Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., who launched the invoice final month with 24 bipartisan members of Congress, on the House flooring forward of the vote. 

“Some members of this body, including me, may not be here today without the service and sacrifice of Afghans who answered the call to serve shoulder to shoulder with us,” mentioned Crow, who served three excursions of obligation in Iraq and Afghanistan as a former Army Ranger. 

The invoice, dubbed the Allies Act, would enhance the variety of particular immigrant visas, or SIVs, for Afghans by an extra 8,000. 

It would additionally take away burdensome software necessities that decelerate the Afghan SIV course of. This features a “credible sworn statement” that requires candidates to show that they face a risk for working for the U.S. authorities, and a requirement that limits the sector of certified candidates. 

The Allies Act is a part of a sequence of bipartisan payments that goals to ease the visa course of underneath the Afghan SIV Program established in 2009. Last month, the House handed one other invoice that will permit Afghan allies to bear a medical examination within the U.S. quite than at a single clinic in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

The House’s passage of the Allies Act additionally comes because the Biden administration strikes ahead with plans to evacuate eligible SIV candidates to a protected location whereas their functions are processed. 

The U.S. is working with allies to safe a number of abroad areas for roughly 4,000 Afghan nationals and their households underneath Operation Allies Refuge. Applicants who’re nearing the completion of their visa course of shall be evacuated to the U.S. Army garrison in Fort Lee, Virginia for round seven to 10 days, in response to a senior state division official. 

The official added that these eligible for an evacuation flight should journey to Kabul on their very own because of the restricted U.S. presence in Afghanistan. 

Last week, Biden announced the beginning of evacuation flights this month for Afghan nationals and their households who assisted coalition forces. 

In April, Biden announced a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, successfully ending America’s longest battle. Biden mentioned final week that the U.S. navy mission in Afghanistan will finish on August 31. 

“We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build,” Biden mentioned in remarks on the White House. “It’s up to the Afghans to make decisions about the future of their country.”

The Pentagon additionally introduced on Wednesday that it had accomplished greater than 95% of the duty of withdrawing from Afghanistan. 

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