Crow Introduces Bill to Protect Afghan Partners and Expedite SIV Process
WASHINGTON - Today, Representative Jason Crow (CO-06) and members of the Honoring our Promises Working Group introduced the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act, a bill designed to protect our Afghan partners and expedite the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process as the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan. The ALLIES Act was introduced alongside 24 bipartisan members of Congress.
The Afghan SIV Program was created in 2009 to provide safety for Afghan interpreters, contractors, and security personnel who worked with the U.S. government in Afghanistan. The application process has been plagued by delays since the program was established and faces severe backlogs, with wait times routinely stretching for years. Since the Biden Administration announced its plans to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, Crow has called on the Administration to expedite this visa process, as Afghan SIV applicants and their families are increasingly under threat by the Taliban.
The ALLIES Act would increase the Afghan SIV cap by an additional 8,000 visas and remove burdensome application requirements that slow down the application process without impacting national security.
“When I served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I worked closely with local translators and contractors who were critical to our safety and the success of our mission. They performed this service at great risk to themselves and their families, but with the understanding that the U.S. would stand by them,” said Rep. Jason Crow. “Now it is time for the U.S. to honor our promises and protect our Afghan partners. The ALLIES Act would expedite the SIV application process by increasing the SIV cap and removing burdensome requirements. I’m proud to work on this commonsense legislation with my colleagues in the Honoring our Promises Working Group.”
“Since 2006, Congress has signaled their support for the Afghan men and women who assisted the United States in the Global War on Terror through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. While the program has suffered unacceptable delays and backlogs since its creation, the imminent withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan has placed thousands of our allies at risk for retribution. Today, I’m proud to co-lead legislation with my colleague Congressman Crow that will authorize additional SIVs and remove unnecessary hurdles for our allies to find safety in the United States—just as we promised,” said Congressman Kinzinger. “More needs to be done to fulfill our promise to our Afghan allies. The Administration must begin evacuating those most at risk for retribution from the Taliban. Again, I want to thank Congressman Crow for his leadership in crafting this legislation.”
“Alliance with Afghan wartime allies forged bridges to the Afghan people and their linguistic skills proved essential in building close working relations with local nationals. Now, with the U.S. withdrawal date in Afghanistan drawing closer, their lives are endangered more than ever as terrorist organizations like the Taliban seek retribution. The ALLIES Act will increase the cap of Afghan SIVs and ensure Afghan interpreters can move expeditiously through the SIV process so they can leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. The American Legion vigorously supports the ALLIES Act because it will protect the lives of Afghan interpreters and recognize their contributions as loyal allies who stood shoulder to shoulder with U.S. servicemembers,” said Chairman Steve Brennan, The American Legion National Security Commission.
“No One Left Behind continues to strongly support Reps. Crow and the Honoring Our Promise Working Group's bipartisan work to expedite the SIV process for allies. This Afghan Allies Protection Act and the issues surrounding the SIV program have now spanned 3 administrations, 7 Congresses, 5 Secretaries of State, and 7 Secretaries of Defense. We have documented 300 interpreters and their families who have been killed while waiting for their visas - likely a low estimate. There is a very real human cost to our government's bureaucratic failings,” said James Miervaldis, Chairman of No One Left Behind.
Specifically, the Allies Act would:
- Increase the Afghan SIV cap by an additional 8,000 visas;
- Remove the requirement for a “credible sworn statement” regarding the threat applicants face for having worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government, since both public and clandestine reporting confirm that Afghans who have worked for the U.S. face heightened risk of retribution from the Taliban.
- Remove the requirement for International Security Assistance Force or Resolute Support employment to be “sensitive and trusted”, expanding the field of qualified applicants.
Crow started the Honoring our Promises Working Group in April, following the Administration’s announcement of a September 11th withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. The lawmakers’ goal is to expedite legislative efforts to protect Afghan partners. Crow introduced the HOPE for Afghan SIVs Act alongside Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), bipartisan legislation to temporarily waive the medical examination requirement for SIV applicants, which is cost prohibitive and difficult for many applicants to safely receive.
You can find bill text of the ALLIES Act here.
Reps. Stephanie Murphy, Seth Moulton, Ruben Gallego, Adam Kinzinger, Mike Waltz, Don Bacon, Michael San Nicholas, Andy Kim, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Greg Stanton, Peter Meijer, Ami Bera, Peter Welch, Jim Baird, Sara Jacobs, Earl Blumenauer, Neal Dunn, Tom Malinowski, Conor Lamb, Madeleine Dean, Mike Thompson, Adam Schiff, Van Taylor, and Brad Wenstrup joined Rep. Crow to introduce the legislation.