Secretary Madeleine Albright, Former Secretaries of Defense, National Security Advisors, and Veterans Organizations Endorse the ALLIES Act

July 21, 2021
Press Release

Bipartisan Legislation Introduced by Crow would increase visa cap for Afghan interpreters and other partners and expedite the visa process

WASHINGTON - Tomorrow, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) to increase the visa cap for Afghan interpreters and other partners and expedite the visa process. 

Ahead of the vote, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Secretaries of Defense Dr. Robert Gates and Chuck Hagel, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff retired Admiral Michael Mullen, former National Security Advisors Stephen J. Hadley and retired Lt. General H.R. McMaster, and veterans organizations including the American Legion, Association of Wartime Allies and Reserve Officers of America endorsed the ALLIES Act. 

The ALLIES Act would streamline the visa process and allocate additional visas, by: 

  • Increasing the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) allotment by an additional 8,000 visas to cover all potentially eligible applicants currently in the pipeline;
  • Amending the credible threat requirement, removing the necessity for applicants to provide additional paperwork to establish a credible threat we know exists for applicants with verified U.S. government ties; 
  • Clarifying eligibility for Afghans who worked for Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) under cooperative agreements and grants with the U.S. government, including those performing critical democracy, human rights, and governance work; 
  • Streamlining duplicative procedures by giving the Departments of Homeland Security the flexibility not to require a I-360 petition in cases where the State Department has already determined an applicant’s eligibility through the Chief of Mission process; and 
  • Allowing family members of deceased primary SIV applicants to continue through the process if the primary SIV applicant dies before visa approval. 

“I strongly support the ALLIES Act because it helps ensure that the United States can meet its responsibility to assist Afghans whose lives are in danger because of their work to support our mission. The act contains critical provisions to streamline and strengthen the Special Immigrant Visa program while clarifying the eligibility of Afghans who worked to implement U.S.-funded democracy programs under cooperative agreements and grants. This legislation advances our national security interests and helps fulfill our critical obligations to Afghan friends and partners. I urge Congress to pass it expeditiously,” said former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. 

“Thousands of our brave Afghan allies who served alongside U.S. military forces and in cooperative agreements and grants with U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations are at grave risk after putting their lives in danger for years. Co-sponsored by the bi-partisan veterans of the For Country Caucus, the ALLIES Act will help get these brave Afghans and their children to safety and streamline the whole process. It is our responsibility to stand by those who have stood by us. I urge Congress to pass it immediately,” said Dr. Robert Gates, who served as the 22nd U.S. Secretary of Defense.

“The United States must stand by the Afghans who stood with us and supported our mission in Afghanistan for the past twenty years. The ALLIES Act will help ensure that we can fulfill our responsibility to assist those brave individuals who worked for the U.S. government and for organizations operating under U.S. cooperative grants and agreements. Passing this legislation is both a strategic and moral imperative,” said Chuck Hagel, who served as the 24th U.S. Secretary of Defense.

"I strongly encourage Congress to urgently pass the ALLIES Act introduced by the bipartisan veteran members of the For Country Caucus. This Act will help us protect the loyal Afghans who worked for years with the U.S. military and U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations operating under cooperative agreements and grants. Many of their lives -- and in some cases the lives of their spouses and children -- are now in imminent danger,” said retired Admiral Michael Mullen, who served as the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“Assisting Afghans who put their lives on the line to support the U.S. mission is a matter of national security. The world needs to know that we will stand with those who stand with us. The bipartisan ALLIES Act advances America’s strategic interests by expanding and strengthening the Special Immigrant Visa program. I am proud to support this critical legislation,” said Stephen J. Hadley, who served as the 21st U.S. National Security Advisor.

“Our Afghan allies who served courageously for years in harm's way including those who guided U.S. military forces or worked with U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations have earned the right to be Americans. The ALLIES Act, which is co-sponsored by bi-partisan veterans of the For Country Caucus who served in Afghanistan, is essential to streamline the flawed visa process and get them to safety immediately. It is our duty to do so, and time is of the essence. I strongly encourage Congress to pass it before it is too late,” said retired Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, who served as the 26th U.S. National Security Advisor.

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. service members,” 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.

"President Biden and his administration have made good on the promise to do all they can do to bring our Afghan partners to safety, and action is already being taken. But Congress has a crucial role to play too, in amending laws to remove hurdles and barriers that cause unnecessary delay. Thankfully, Congressman Crow's bill, the ALLIES Act, would address these issues. That's why President Biden supports it, and why we're very enthusiastically supporting it. Those who put their lives -- and their family's lives -- on the line for America, in Afghanistan, have earned the safety and freedom that only we can provide them,” said Mary Kaszynski, Director of Government Relations at VoteVets. 

“ROA urges the immediate passage of H.R. 3985, the ALLIES Act, which increases the number of special immigrant visas and streamlines the process for Afghans who have aided the United States in the war on terror.  Our Afghan partners have risked their lives alongside American Troops in defense of this nation and they have earned the right to live in the U.S. if they so choose.  The ALLIES Act is another tool to deliver on our promise and ensure every roadblock can be lifted so Afghans fighting for the cause of freedom can immigrate to the United States in the safest and quickest manner,” said Jeffrey Phillips, Executive Director of the Reserve Officers of America (ROA).

“The National Immigration Forum has long supported Afghan SIVs and believes it is essential for the United States to keep our promise to those who helped us. We are glad for the support we’ve seen for our Afghan allies among members of Congress from both parties. We urge Congress to do everything in its power to support our Afghan allies and ensure that the U.S. relocates, vets, and protects them as expeditiously as possible,” said Ali Noorani, President and CEO of the National Immigration Forum.

“The American Ex-Prisoners of War and our members strongly support passage of HR 3985. This bill will amend the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 to expedite the special immigrant visa process for certain Afghan allies, and for other purposes. These allies sacrificed much in assistance to our military.   As we are leaving Afghanistan, we have an obligation to do all we can to ensure their safety and offer refuge. Rep. Crow has our unequivocal support and endorsement,” said Cheryl Cerbone, Chief Executive Officer of the American Ex-Prisoners of War. 

"The Association of Wartime Allies is pleased to endorse H.R. 3985, the ALLIES Act.  This bi-partisan effort will reduce the wait time for our Afghan Allies still undergoing the processing of their SIV application, whether evacuated or still in Afghanistan. The AWA looks forward to more bi-partisan cooperation on our SIV programs in the future, said Kim Staffieri, Executive Director of the Association of Wartime Allies.

You can find a fact sheet on the bill here. The Statement of Administration Policy in support of the ALLIES Act can be found here.