SHAHEEN APPLAUDS INCLUSION OF VISAS FOR AFGHAN ALLIES IN APPROPRIATIONS BILLJune 29, 2016
**State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill Approved In Committee Today Provides 4,000 New Visas for Afghans Who Have Supported the U.S. Mission**
**Shaheen: If Congress fails to extend this program, this could be a death sentence**
(Washington, D.C.)—This afternoon, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) praised the inclusion of a provision in an appropriations bill that would extend the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program that allows Afghans who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan to apply for refuge in the United States. Language included in the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill provides 4,000 additional visas and extends the program for another year. Many Afghan interpreters and their families have had their lives threatened by the Taliban and desperately need refuge. In the past few years, the SIV program was reauthorized through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but the Senate this year failed to vote on an amendment to the NDAA offered by Sen. Shaheen. Without an extension, this program is expected to run out of visas by the end of the year.
“I’m encouraged that this bill has an extension of this vital program, and I want to thank Chairman Graham for including this important provision,” said Shaheen. “If Congress fails to extend this program, this could be a death sentence for many Afghans who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our military and diplomats. Many Americans who served in Afghanistan are alive today because of their service. As we speak, the Taliban is hunting down many of these Afghans and their families because of their association with the United States. As a nation, we owe them a great debt, and I’ll continue to look at every opportunity to extend this important program before it expires. I’m determined to prevent Congress from betraying our allies.”
In an op-ed published in The New York Times last week, Sen. Shaheen stated her intention to seek inclusion of additional visas in the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. She also warned of the strategic costs of abandoning these Afghans:
“United States forces have always relied on local allies to accomplish military and diplomatic missions, and will need this support in the future. But why would anyone agree to help the United States if we have a record of breaking our promises and abandoning those who assist us?”
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