Sunday, May 26, 2024

Republican Senators Remove the Extension of SIV Program for War Interpreters

Immigration News

Nizamuddin Rezahi
Nizamuddin Rezahi
Nizamuddin Rezahi is a journalist and editor for Khaama Press. You may follow him @nizamrezahi on Twitter.

The Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) a pathway through which thousands of Afghan translators who worked with the U.S. forces during the two-decade-long war in Afghanistan, resettled in the U.S. is coming to end.

Following the removal of the Special Immigration Visa extension from the Senate version of the defense spending bill, the Democrats, veterans, and advocacy groups criticized the republican lawmakers for the decision.

“The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) fails our Afghan allied, today. The Senate removed a provision to extend the Afghan SIV program as well as bipartisan protection of our wounded Afghan allies. American veterans will not stand for the abandonment of our partners,” tweeted No One Left Behind, an advocacy group helping Afghan SIVs to get out of Afghanistan and reach the United States.  

Thousands of SIV-eligible applicants who are waiting for their cases to be processed are hiding or living in fear in Afghanistan or moved to Pakistan. The latest decision taken to remove the extension of the Afghan SIV program beyond 2023 will negatively affect the lives of Afghan interpreters and their families living in complete ambiguity and desperation.

In May last year, three months before the overthrow of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, the SIV program had some bipartisan support. A letter from 20 senators including seven Republicans called to the Biden administration for support and to maintain the integrity of the program.

“It would be unconscionable for Congress to allow the Afghan SIV program to expire with tens of thousands of U.S. allies still in harm’s way,” said Adam Bates, policy counsel for the New York-based International Refugee Assistance Project.

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