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On Senate Floor, Shaheen Discusses Her Bill to Provide Additional Afghan SIVs: The U.S. “Made a Solemn Promise to These Brave People”

**Earlier today, Senators Shaheen, McCain, Tillis and Reed introduced the ‘Keeping Our Promise to Our Afghan Allies Act’ to authorize an additional 2,500 SIVs**

 **SHAHEEN: “We must not leave behind the Afghan interpreters who served side by side with our warriors and diplomats.”**

**Shaheen highlighted the story of Patmana Rafiq Kunary, who worked with USAID in Afghanistan, obtained an SIV, and now lives in Keene, NH**

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(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor today about the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program and her bipartisan legislation, the Keeping Our Promise to Our Afghan Allies Act, that she introduced today to authorize an additional 2,500 SIVs. Her legislation with Senators McCain (R-AZ), Tillis (R-NC) and Reed (D-RI) comes after the U.S. Embassy in Kabul officially stopped scheduling interviews for applicants seeking a visa through the Afghan SIV program. Shaheen stressed the bipartisan support for the program and the obligation that the United States has to uphold its promise to those who served alongside our soldiers and diplomats in Afghanistan. “For these Afghans, it is no exaggeration to say that this is a matter of life and death,” said Shaheen. “Unless Congress acts, this program will lapse – and we will abandon these Afghans to a harsh fate.”

During her remarks, Shaheen mentioned that several senior U.S. commanders and diplomats have pleaded with Congress to extend the Afghan SIV program. In addition to Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis and Commander of our Armed Forces in Afghanistan General John W. Nicholson, Jr., Shaheen noted that, “more than 30 additional prominent generals – including Gen. John Allen, the former commander in Afghanistan; Gen. George Casey, the former commander in Iraq; and two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers and Gen. Hugh Shelton – also urged Congress to extend the program.”

Shaheen went on to share the story of Patmana Rafiq Kunary, an Afghan woman who now lives in Keene, New Hampshire. Patmana told the Senator about her work with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Kabul, where she became vice president for operations at the USAID-sponsored microloan program. “For a woman in Afghanistan, going door to door and working closely with Americans, this was dangerous work,” Shaheen said. Patmana “became a high-profile target for the Taliban and others. Patmana applied for a Special Immigrant Visa… she now lives very happily in Keene, New Hampshire with her husband and two-year-old daughter. Her husband, Mohsin Khan, has found work as an auditor with a local financial company. They are welcomed as valued members of the Keene community and our larger Granite State family.”

“We would never leave an American warrior behind on the battlefield. Likewise, we must not leave behind the Afghan interpreters who served side by side with our warriors and diplomats,” said Shaheen. “We made a solemn promise to these brave people.  I am going to do everything I can to ensure that we keep this promise.”

Shaheen urged her Senate colleagues to “keep our promise to our Afghan allies by supporting these efforts.”