SHAHEEN, MCCAIN WELCOME SENATE PASSAGE OF LEGISLATION TO PROVIDE VISAS FOR AFGHAN CIVILIANS IN DANGER FOR SERVICE ALONGSIDE AMERICANS

Bipartisan bill to sustain Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program sent to President to be signed into law

August 01, 2014

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and John McCain (R-AZ) welcomed today’s unanimous approval of bipartisan legislation that would honor the service of the Afghan civilians who assisted U.S. efforts in their country. The legislation, which is similar to a Shaheen-McCain bill that was introduced two weeks ago, addresses a pressing shortfall in the number of visas available to deserving applicants for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program and now heads to President Obama to be signed into law. The House passed the legislation by voice vote on Wednesday.

The Afghan SIV program provides visas to Afghans who have provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and face threats from terrorists as a result. This legislation responds directly to warnings from the State Department that it is on the verge of running out of visas, potentially leaving hundreds of deserving Afghans stuck in limbo and at risk of being killed by the Taliban. This bipartisan bill authorizes an additional 1,000 visas for the Afghan SIV program to address the shortfall.

“We must honor our commitment to the brave civilians who risked their lives to help our country during a time of war,” Senator Shaheen said. “The bipartisan bill we are sending the President makes good on our promise to our Afghan allies and will help them find safe haven in the face of threats from the Taliban. I hope the President signs this into law right away.” 

"We have a responsibility to honor the promises we made to the Afghan men and women who risked their lives and those of their families to assist American forces,” Senator McCain said. “They have been a critical resource to our troops throughout the past decade and it would be unconscionable to abandon these brave individuals who are now in danger for their service to the United States’ mission in Afghanistan."

Shaheen and McCain have led ongoing bipartisan efforts to extend and reform the SIV program, and last year helped prevent the Iraq program from expiring by pushing Congress to unanimously pass short-term and long-term extensions of the Iraq program.