In 2009, Congress passed the Afghan Allies Protection Act. The Act provided special immigrant visas (SIVs) who had worked for at least one year as translators or interpreters, or who were employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. Government in Afghanistan, and whose lives were threatened because of their work in support of the U.S. Mission. The visas allowed these wartime allies to resettle in the United States.
The Afghan SIV program represents a promise that we made to our wartime allies. Following through on that promise is not only vital to maintaining support of the Afghan people, it is vital to completing our mission there and to future wars in which we may be engaged.
In its FY 2019 budget, the Trump Administration asked for 4,000 additional Afghan SIVs. Under H.J. Res 31, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019, Congress included $5 million to fund the 4,000 Afghan SIVs, an LSSNCA advocacy priority. The president signed that bill in to law on February 15, 2019. The bill also included language directing the State department to implement a system of prioritization for processing Afghan SIVs based on the threats they receive, and after reviewing the facts of each case, giving appropriate consideration to those applicants who during their qualifying service, assisted in combat operations. Advocates will be asking for at least another 4,000 SIVs for FY 2020.
Advocates are also expressing concern over the marked slowdown in Afghan SIV processing. Less than half of available Afghan SIVs were processed in Fiscal Year 2018, a significant decrease from SIVs issued in Fiscal Year 2017. Add your voice in support of refugees using one of the advocacy methods below.
Call Your Elected Official
Tell Congress to Welcome Refugees: Call 1-866-961-4293*
*Please call three times to be connected with your Representative and both of your Senators.
Sample Script: “Specifically, I urge you to contact the White House and the State Department and urge them to utilize all 4,000 Afghan Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) that were funded. State Department data show that only 1,649 visas were issued in Fiscal Year 2018, a 60% decrease from the 4,120 visas issued in Fiscal Year 2017.
The United States’ presence in Afghanistan has relied on the life-saving assistance of Afghans who put themselves in danger to serve alongside U.S. troops, diplomats and contractors. Many of these allies joined U.S. forces to combat violence perpetrated by al-Queda, ISIL and the Taliban, and now they and their families are targets of terrorism by these same groups. I feel strongly that these individuals and their families should be welcomed into the United States as a tribute to their service.”
Feel free to also share a personal story about the importance of refugees to you, your faith, your community, your business, etc. Let them know the specific ways that refugees benefit and are welcomed into your community, and why refugee protection is so important to you.
Write to Your Elected Official
The Honorable [Senator/Representative] (find this information at www.senate.gov and www.house.gov)
[room number] [name of congressional office building]
Washington, DC [20510/20515]
Dear [Senator/Representative] [last name]:
As your constituent from [city, state], I urge you to welcome refugees and support the U.S. refugee resettlement program. Resettlement is a strong American legacy that extends hospitality and offers a chance for refugees to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity. Every day, more community members than ever before are volunteering with resettlement offices around the country to help refugees integrate and thrive.
Some of these refugees served as key allies to the U.S. troops, diplomats and contractors working to combat violence perpetrated by al-Queda, ISIL, and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Now these same individuals and their families are the targets of terrorism by these same groups.
Specifically, I urge you to contact the White House and State Department and urge them to utilize all 4,000 Afghan Special Immigrant Visas that were funded. State Department data show that only 1,649 visas were issued in Fiscal Year 2018, a 60% decrease from the 4,120 visas issued in Fiscal Year 2017.
The United States’ presence in Afghanistan has relied on the life-saving assistance of Afghans. Many veterans that served alongside Afghan allies attribute their lives to these individuals and feel strongly that they should be welcomed into the United States as a tribute to their service.
We need to show the Afghan people that we will follow through on our word and maintain their support of our efforts. If we do not, other potential allies in the future may be discouraged from assisting U.S. efforts if they don’t think they will be protected and kept safe in return for their work.
[your signature and contact information]