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At National Visa Center in Portsmouth, Shaheen highlights need to extend Special Immigrant Visa Program for civilians who served alongside American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan

(Portsmouth, NH) – Following a tour of the National Visa Center in Portsmouth this afternoon, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) highlighted the importance of the Special Immigrant Visa program for Iraqis and Afghans who risked their lives working with the U.S. government, including the U.S Military. Shaheen specifically noted the need for the U.S. to honor its commitment to these civilians by passing a long-term extension of the program and implement critical reforms to make the application process more efficient.  The National Visa Center in Portsmouth is one of the facilities nationally that helps process these applications.

Shaheen has led ongoing bipartisan efforts with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to extend the SIV program, and helped prevent the Iraq program from expiring in October by pushing Congress to unanimously pass a short-term patch until a longer-term extension could be enacted.

“Iraqi and Afghan civilians have made tremendous contributions to our country and have sacrificed their safety to help our men and women in uniform,” Shaheen said. “We have to honor the commitment we made to these brave men and women.”

Shaheen added, “Congress needs to act swiftly and extend the Special Immigrant Visa program so we can protect our partners in Iraq and Afghanistan who have provided crucial support to our efforts.” 

“While serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, I saw firsthand the courageous and unselfish actions taken by thousands of interpreters who put their lives and their families’ lives on the line every day,” said Truman Project Executive Director Capt. Michael Breen who attended the Visa Center tour in Portsmouth. “The Special Immigrant Visa Program is the lifeline for interpreters and others who risked their lives for our troops. As a former U.S. Army Captain, I applaud Senator Shaheen for championing this program and I am grateful for the work that those at the National Visa Center do to keep the promise that this country made to those who served with us. Continuation of the SIV program will provide safe passage to security and the new beginning these men and women rightfully earned in America.”

The Special Immigrant Visa Program provides visas to Iraqis and Afghans who have provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. Government and face threats due to that service.  Shaheen introduced legislation in May that would extend the program, and similar bipartisan plans were included in the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform package and multiple appropriation bills.