Shaheen Statement on Afghan Interpreter Visas Included in Pending National Defense Legislation

November 30, 2016

**Bicameral legislation that is expected to be voted on in the House and Senate includes 1,500 visas for interpreters and other staff who supported the U.S. mission**

 **Senators Shaheen and McCain have led efforts in the Senate to extend this vital national security program**   

(Washington, DC)—This afternoon, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) delivered the following statement on the inclusion of additional visas for Afghan interpreters in pending national defense legislation. The bicameral National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) unveiled today provides 1,500 special immigrant visas (SIV) for interpreters and other staff who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and are under threat because of their service. This legislation is expected to soon be voted on in both the House and Senate.

“It is no exaggeration to say that this is a matter of life and death as Afghans who served the U.S. mission continue to be systematically hunted down by the Taliban,” said Shaheen. “I’m very relieved that additional visas will be made available in this legislation. However, the number of visas needed for those in danger far surpasses what’s provided in this bill. The United States promised to protect these Afghans and I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure Congress doesn’t renege on that promise.” 

The SIV program has been championed by Senator Shaheen and Senator John McCain (R-AZ). In July, the Senate passed Senator Shaheen’s motion to instruct the conferees reconciling the House and Senate versions of the NDAA to advocate for the extension of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program and authorize additional visas. Without Congressional action, this program is expected to run out of visas in January.