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Shaheen Introduces Amendment to Extend Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program through 2017 and Authorize 4,000 Additional Visas

**Her amendment has bipartisan support from Chairman McCain, Ranking Member Reed and Senator Tillis**

(Washington, DC) – Today U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), with the bipartisan support of Chairman McCain (R-AZ), Ranking Member Reed (D-RI) and Senator Tillis (R-NC), filed an amendment to the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would preserve the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, which allows Afghans who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and face threats as a result to apply for refuge in the United States. This amendment would extend the Afghan SIV program through December 31, 2017 and authorize the Department of State to issue an additional 4,000 visas. The amendment would also require the Department of Defense and the Department of State to prepare and provide to Congress a strategy for responsibly winding down the Afghan SIV program over the next several years.

Earlier this month, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved this year’s NDAA without extending or authorizing new visas for the Afghan SIV program. Senators Shaheen and McCain have led ongoing bipartisan efforts in Congress to improve the Special Immigrant Visa program and pass extensions to ensure it remains in operation.

“This country owes a great debt to the Afghans who provided essential assistance to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan,” said Senator Shaheen. “Thousands of these brave men and women stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans in the field, putting themselves and their families at risk to help our soldiers and diplomats accomplish their mission and return home safely. I will not stand by while Congress turns its back on these individuals and imperils our ability to secure this kind of support in the future. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support my amendment and those who have done so much for this country.”

“Our nation has a moral obligation to protect those Afghans whose lives are in imminent danger today because they supported American troops and diplomats,” said Senator McCain. “This amendment will ensure the continuation of the Special Immigrant Visa program, which our military commanders have said is essential to battlefield success and preserving the gains of the last 15 years in Afghanistan. And it will send clear message that America will not turn its back on those – who at great personal risk – stood with us in the fight against terror.”